Grown man steals baseball thrown to little girl while his girlfriend sits back and laughs
An adult man in a Juan Soto shirt intercepted a baseball thrown by an outfielder at a little girl during a game at Washington Nationals on Thursday night.
Avery Hilliard, 10, a youth softball player, came to the weekday game with her gloved hand — ready to catch a ball. But when player Joey Meneses threw one into the stands where Hilliard and her teammates waved their arms, a grown man towered over the kids, grabbed the ball and quickly turned around.
‘Out of nowhere [the man] gets up and takes the ball. He had no regrets and his girlfriend just sat there laughing,” Gina Hilliard, Avery’s mother, told DailyMail.com.
Gina was shooting her daughter in the front row of the stands when Meneses threw the ball that was clearly intended for the kids.
Avery held up her softball glove as Meneses threw his baseball at her. “Catch it, catch it,” a teammate yells eagerly.
In an instant, the unidentified man in the Soto jersey enters from off-camera and intercepts the ball that was just a foot away from landing in Avery’s glove.
‘What?!’ An incredulous girl can be heard in the video as Avery turns around in disappointment.
The unidentified man quickly walked away without making eye contact with the young baseball fans.
Gina posted a video of the mind-boggling interaction on Twitter with the tag, “Big man steals baseball from little girl.” It has since gone viral with nearly 4.5 million views.
Avery Hilliard (third from left) waved to baseball star Joey Meneses on Thursday night to throw her a ball during a game at Washington Nationals
Avery 9 thirds from left) saw the ball coming her way and quickly prepared while another member of her team cheered her on
Meneses threw the ball to the young girl but it was quickly intercepted by an unknown man (far left)
Avery was at the game with her softball league and her team couldn’t believe what had happened. The man in the Soto jersey quickly walked away with no regrets, and his girlfriend laughed at his interception, according to Avery’s mother who made the video
Avery’s mom, Gina Hilliard, posted the video to Twitter and quickly gained traction with nearly 4.5 million views
The Shenandoah Rec Softball League Babe Ruth 10 and under was invited to the game on Thursday for the Washington Nationals Youth Champion Day. The team was recognized for their hard work in winning the state title and enjoyed the game when the unfortunate incident happened.
In an interview with DailyMail.com, Gina said the softball league had a great day at the ball park and was recognized in the midfield.
The team replied, ‘Hey Gina! If you like to follow us, we’ll send you a DM!’
The girls took pictures together and with the team mascot before returning to their seats.
Baseball star Meneses is known for throwing warm-up balls into the crowd during the game. Towards the end of the game, Avery and her teammates eagerly headed for the baseball fence to try and swing down a ball from Meneses.
“It was the last chance before we left,” Gina said.
The man returned to his seat and was confronted by a team father. The ball robber is said to have said to the father: ‘I have bought a ticket for the game and have the same right to the ball.’
Gina was furious and had to run away.
Despite that one bad moment on a memorable day, Gina is pleased that the Washington Nationals contacted her in an effort to improve the situation.
Although the team promised to send a gift to Avery, she hopes the whole team can get something too, especially since the ball was meant to be caught in front of everyone.
The Washington Nationals did not respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com.
The Shenandoah Rec Softball League (Avery far left in photo) was invited to play for the Washington Nationals Youth Champion Day on Thursday. The girls tried to grab a ball thrown by a baseball star during the game
Gina said the baseball team contacted her and apologized. To make up for the experience, they send an unspecified token to her daughter
Some social media users were outraged and demanded the identity of the unidentified man.
“Can anyone identify this man so that he will be blacklisted anywhere, anytime and for the rest of his life,” one person wrote.
Another added: ‘Goodness, he threw it at HER especially!’
Others thought the man had stolen balls before and may have compared him to another infamous ball catcher in other stadiums.
“This guy always does this and now a teenager is calling him out HARD. Many point and shame, but he runs off to chase more balls,” one person wrote.
Some social media users are pushing for identification of the man, who wore a Soto jersey during Thursday night’s Nationals game in Washington DC.
In a similar incident during a baseball game at Padres Stadium in San Diego last month, teen Bruce Williams received a courtesy ball stolen from him by a man. Coincidentally, this incident also involved a Soto jersey – but this time on the actual player.
Juan Soto, who plays for the Padres, threw the ball into the stands where Williams was sitting when the man… later identified as Mark Kirsch – ran to the ball at the same time as the teenager.
“I saw it coming towards me and so I quickly put on my glove and stood straight in my seat,” Williams said. Illustrated Sports.
‘As if it were with me. And then suddenly someone was plowing all over me. He bumped into me and pushed me to the side trying to get the ball and I reached over him and grabbed it right out of the air.”
Kirsch snatched the teen’s ball after it landed in his glove. He refused to return it to the teenager and instead tried to exchange Royals shirts with him in return and then quickly left the stadium.
In a similar situation—which also happened to involve Juan Soto—a grown man (center) stole a baseball from a teenager’s grasp during a Royals baseball game last month when the Padres player threw a ball into the stands
The man, identified as Mark Kirsch (in black in the center of the photo), refused to return the ball and then quickly left the stadium