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: Rockets overcome Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat 114-84
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks 114-110
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres 4-1
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).