The myth of the thrown-back baseball

Of all the ridiculous traditions in all of sports, throwing a homerun ball back because it was hit by the opposition, is among the most ridiculous.

If somebody had done that to Lou Gehrig’s 1928 World Series homer against Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander (scoring Babe Ruth on the dinger), then a Connecticut woman wouldn’t be able to pay off her son’s medical school bills by selling it now.

It is a practice that is believed to have begun in the Wrigley Field bleachers and has, of course, now been adopted by wayward Minnesota Twins fans at Target Field.

But here’s what those local fans apparently don’t know: Wrigley Field fans (usually) don’t throw the real homerun ball back.

I was discussing this new “tradition” with Mary Lucia on The Currrent last week when a Chicago listener, whose name I am withholding out of concern for her personal safety, let me in on the secret in this e-mail:

Sorry you don’t like our North Side tradition of throwing an opposing team’s home run back. For the record, many of the balls actually thrown back on the field are not the actual home run ball. People in the bleachers often bring extra balls, and security personnel do as well. It may be a dumb tradition, but we’re not stupid enough to throw back anything that might be valuable.

“You do not want to be the person who catches a home run and doesn’t throw it back. The peer pressure is crushing,” our mythbuster says. And so fans bring an extra baseball to the game, just in case.

We found this nugget online to confirm this assertion…

Tell this to Target Field. They’re throwing away someone’s medical school education.