When choosing a ball boy, teams look for certain qualities, the foremost being working eyeballs and the understanding of what constitutes “fair” and “foul” balls. Presumably, the Royals did not conduct a thorough interview when hiring this past weekend’s ball boy.
In case the ball boy is reading, a ball is foul when it’s hit outside the field of play. In the ball boy’s defense, though, it can be hard to tell if a ball lands fair or foul in live action, especially to the unconditioned eye. Luckily, there is a handy sideline ump who decides the call. The kid just has to pay attention and react to the ump’s incredibly distinct hand signals. He could also listen for the umpire’s verbal confirmation of, “FAAAAAYUUUHHHH” or “FooO.”
Here’s the poor, little guy screwing up.
The ball boy catches the fair ball and immediately all the little kids start jumping up and down begging for the ball, while their dads, three Budweisers deep and somehow still possessing more situational awareness than the ball boy, are screaming at him to throw it to right fielder Nori Aoki. Meanwhile, Aoki just gives a pissed off, WTF look. Naturally, now nervous like a pledge who screwed up the simplest of tasks, the ball boy completely avoids the next ball hit toward him, despite the fact that it was clearly foul. To be fair, I would, too. No one wants to make the same mistake twice.
Not to worry–this is nothing a few hours of wall sits while screaming the rules of baseball can’t fix.