Usually when a fan throws a home run ball back onto the field of play, it’s in defiance of an opposing player as they circle the bases. On Monday, Kevan Smith’s home run ball ended up back on the field due to a classy gesture by an observant fan.
Smith hit his first career home run in the second inning of the White Sox 10-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles, with the ball being caught by a fan in the seats just to the right of the center field batter’s eye. The fan was able to yell to Orioles center fielder Adam Jones that it was Smith’s first home run and tossed the ball to the 31-year-old five-time All-Star. Jones then delivered the ball to the White Sox bullpen, which got the ball to Smith later in the evening.
The 28-year-old Smith didn’t know the fan and Jones had coordinated on getting him the ball until Jones came up to bat in the top of the third inning.
“Jones came up to hit and he was like, ‘Hey, I got your ball for you,’” Smith said.
As for the fan: “I would love to give him tickets or whatever for throwing it back,” Smith said. “It’s certainly a day I’ll remember.”
Smith hasn’t taken an easy path to hitting his first big league home run, going from a backup quarterback on Dave Wannstedt’s Pitt Panthers in college to spending six seasons in the minors before being promoted to the majors last April. But two days after being called up — and before he could make his debut — Smith suffered an injury that landed him on the disabled list.
It would be four months until Smith was brought up as a September call-up and finally made his major league debut. Smith has been up and down from Triple-A to the White Sox twice this year and hadn’t homered at any level since Aug. 28, 2016.
Smith isn’t sure what he’s going to do with the ball, but it’ll be displayed in some manner at home. Either way, he’s grateful for the quick, observant thinking of the fan who caught his home run and Jones to allow him to hang on to such a special memento.
“Chris Davis steps up to the plate and congratulates me — it’s one of those moments you have to step back and be like, ‘wow,’” Smith said. “It was a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”