RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Play ball! That's one phrase one baseball fan won't be hearing anymore, at least at Richmond Flying Squirrels games. Not after he was banned for life for hitting a player with a foul ball.
This happened during a Squirrels - Phillies game Tuesday night. Squirrels management says the man didn't mean to hit the player, but is paying for it with a life-time ban from The Diamond.
On home video, you could hear a resounding groan from other spectators. It was a show-stopper at the bottom of the fifth Tuesday.
Cell phone video shows a foul ball returned to the field by a fan in the upper deck behind home plate. The fan took the foul ball and lobbed it onto the field striking Reading Phillies pitcher J.C. Ramirez in the shin. That stopped the game.
The precision from that distance was still baffling one day later to his teammates, other spectators and Squirrels staff.
"It's something I haven't seen in my 10 years in baseball," said Squirrels spokesman Jon Laaser.
"I know I couldn't have done it. I wouldn't have tried, but wouldn't have done it," said spectator Woody Blottner.
Blottner witnessed the impact and aftermath.
"The other team's bullpen, the manager came out, they were glaring into the upper deck like they wanted to run up there," said Blottner.
Only minutes passed before the game resumed, with Ramirez back on the mound without serious injury and one less fan.
"Right as he threw the ball he realized, I think, what he had done and he was walking down already walked to security - hat in hand and said I'm terribly sorry," said Laaser.
Laaser said the man admitted it was a simple lapse of judgement. Laaser said the Squirrels have a zero tolerance policy for such behavior.
"He would be banned from any further events including Flying Squirrels games, VCU games, anything else that might happen here at the ballpark, he's essentially banned from the premises," said Laaser.
"I think every fan should conduct themselves in a sportsman like manner and be as friendly and nice as you can," said spectator William Tucker.
So if you're lucky to catch a foul.
"Put it in your pocket and cherish the souvenir," said Laaser.
The fan, who wasn't identified, wasn't arrested and the opposing team did not press charges. NBC12 reached out to the Reading Phillies for comment, but our call was not returned.