By Sports on Earth Staff
Let's face it: We all want to catch a foul ball or home run. But how many of us would have the skill to actually haul in a screeching line drive or a high pop-up if it came hurtling in our direction, let alone make it highlight-worthy?
That's part of what makes these plays so amazing. Sure, we can gaze in awe at players like Juan Lagares or Austin Jackson making circus catches all day long. But when that average person in the stands displays athleticism or becomes the center of a major milestone, there's something special about it. It becomes our iconic moment, our chance to shine.
Here are ten that should live on in fandom history for a long, long time.
April 20, 2013 -- Rangers vs. Mariners
Might as well start with one of the more well-known home run ball hawks out there: Trent Williams, Texas Rangers fan. This is one of his better snags (although there are plenty to choose from). His method is simple. "The ball's coming toward me," Williams -- whose home run catches are in the double digits -- has said. "I get up, plant my foot, hop over, and go catch it."
April 10, 2013 -- Astros vs. Mariners
It's even doubly impressive if you don't have to let go of your beer...
June 15, 2014 -- Rockies vs. Giants
Or your kid...
May 17, 2014 -- Rangers vs. Blue Jays
Some fans have got great hands, and some have just got game. This young man became an Internet sensation when he was caught on camera handing a ball over to a lovely lady behind him -- even though it actually wasn't the one he caught from the field of play. Smooth, kid. Real smooth.
Aug. 11, 2014 -- Cubs vs. Brewers
Slick switcheroos aren't just for young Casanovas. Earlier this week this old timer Cubs fan pulled a fast one in the bleachers, looking fairly spry in the process.
Aug. 19, 2010 -- Phillies vs. Giants
Not only did Ian Driben make a great catch, but he also managed to do it without sacrificing his overpriced fries and beverage. Folks, we have a true American hero.
Oct. 8, 1996 -- Yankees vs. Orioles
Now we come to the fans that may not stand out for their skill so much as their place in baseball lore. Jeffrey Maier quite possibly altered the course of MLB history when he pulled Derek Jeter's drive in for a homer during Game 1 of the '96 ALCS. Sure, it wasn't technically a clean "catch," but its significance can't be ignored. If only we had instant replay back then...
July 9, 2011 -- Yankees vs. Rays
Sticking with our Jeterian theme, there is always something to be said about being in the right place at the right time. Twenty-eight players in baseball history are members of the 3,000 hit club, but only two clubbed a dinger as milestone hit (Wade Boggs was the other guy). The man who caught it, Christian Lopez, returned the actual ball to The Captain.
April 8, 1974 -- Braves vs. Dodgers
Okay, now we're stretching the limits of what we call a fan, because the guy who caught Hank Aaron's barrier-breaking 715th home run wasn't technically a paying spectator at all, but Aaron's Braves teammate Tom House, who caught the ball on a fly in the bullpen. He then presented it to Aaron in a ceremony at home plate -- the touching gesture was actually House's ticket to the Hall of Fame.
Oct. 3, 1951 -- New York Giants vs. Brooklyn Dodgers
"The Shot Heard 'Round the World" may be one of the most famous home runs in history, but the identity of the person who actually caught the ball remains mostly a mystery -- which is why it's so fascinating and lands at the top of this list. The fact that a whole book has been writtern involving the search for the missing ball, that the incident happened at the cusp of baseball and modern technology that allowed people all over the country to watch a game, that the person who reportedly snagged the historic blast may have been a nun who flauted her order's rules to attend the game. Now that's a story. That's what baseball is all about.