An Interview With the Phillies Fan Who Threw Back Carlos Lee's Home Run at CBP

An Interview With the Phillies Fan Who Threw Back Carlos Lee's Home Run at CBP

Throwing an opposing team's home run ball back at Citizens Bank Park has been debated since the day the beautiful facility opened. Personally, I have always been against throwing the ball back on to the field, leaving that tradition to the bleacher bums at Wrigley. That said, I've never caught a home run, so I'm not 100% sure what I'd do. Peer pressure and all, ya'know?

Last night, before things got really crazy in extra innings, friend of the Level and the man behind trying to bring the Athletics back to Philadelphia, J T. Ramsay caught the ball Carlos Lee belted into the left field seats off of Cole Hamels to give the Astros the a 2-0 lead. He promptly tossed the ball back onto the field.

Following the game, we asked J T. about his cannon/experience.

[watch the home run here and look for J T. at the 18 second mark]

Enrico: Have you ever caught a ball before?

J T.: I've never caught a ball before. Not so much as a foul ball.

Sitting in left field has been pretty calm overall. Last homer that threatened Section 143 was a floater that Ben Francisco hit. Freaked me out because I had my infant son strapped to me. It landed harmlessly in the flower box.

Did you think before ever catching a HR ball that you'd keep it if it were to happen?

I've given this a lot of thought actually, since we're in row 10 in 143. It's always a possibility, but I stuck to the plan. Biggest fears about it? Not hitting the field and hitting a fan, or somehow beaning Raul if he had his back turned. Fortunately neither happened.

If a Phillie had hit it, and if I'd had my son with me, then, yeah, I would've kept it. But it was Carlos freakin' Lee and my son wasn't with me, so I threw it back. Felt pretty good, actually. Chances are that unless I suddenly learn a knuckleball, 45,000 people are never going to cheer me like that again in my lifetime.

Did you give in to the peer pressure or did you always want to throw it back?

Great question. Can I admit that I sort of think that it sucks that Philly adopted a pretty lame Cubs thing, which has become a trend around the league? And, really, if you're doing anything to emulate Cubs fans, you're probably forgetting the fact that they have a well-documented curse. We're past that. Doing this just seems silly to me.

All the same, it was cathartic. We never give Cole run support and a two-run bomb like that is just the sort of thing that makes lesser fans think he's a bum. I want to be on record that I think Cole has been amazing this year and that if our offense were anything like it has been, these homers would be harmless. Throwing it back felt like the only honest thing to do. Plus, it's the only time I'll probably ever throw a ball in a major league ballpark.
Peer pressure never really was a factor. Cheryl, one of the women who sits in front of me, just said, "Throw it back, J T." and I had to oblige her. We're family in Section 143.

Finally, how much did that game suck?

I have a controversial answer to this question! What if I said it didn't suck and that it exemplified what makes watching the Phillies at the ballpark such a pleasure? Seriously, the game was blazing along for a frustrating 9 innings, when suddenly J-Roll awakes from his torpor to tie it, which results in a marathon game that lasts nearly five and a half hours. When was the last time you saw Danys Baez come up big in a high leverage inning? NEVER!

Sure, the officiating was terrible. It has been often this season. MLB has noticed. But set that aside and consider the product on the field. The Phillies are frustrated. I wish they could fire Milt Thompson again. So do your readers, I bet. Howard has an awful night, gets taunted by the ump, blows a gasket and gets tossed.

What happens next will forever emblazon Roy Oswalt in Phillies folklore. This isn't LaRussa putting Lohse in left during that 20-inning disaster of a game. This is Roy Oswalt getting the Cliff Lee treatment for being a team player. Do you think there's any doubt in his mind he came to the right place now?

Will it suck if we miss the playoffs because we dropped two winnable games to the freakin' Astros? Absolutely. But games like this galvanize the Phillies faithful. You could've heard a pin drop in that place before Howard exploded. The crowd was going wild after 12 AM  on a school night! The loss hurts, but you can't beat the experience.

Enrico: So there you have it. Throw a ball back if you want, but you don't have to.

You can join J T.'s cause to bring the A's back to Philly here or read his blog here.

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).