The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the midst of their best season in decades. On Sunday, June 30th, they were trailing the lowly Milwaukee Brewers 1-0 when Pittsburgh first baseman Gaby Sanchez ripped a fly ball to deep left-center. It looked like a shot that would tie the game.
Then this happened.
After @SportsPickle tweeted out the clip, one of the fans — the bearded, sunglassed man on the left — promptly identified himself.
What follows is an interview with that fan: Steve Kubitz, age 25, a Pittsburgh area radio producer who has been a Pirates season ticket holder for seven years.
So it's the 7th inning. The Pirates are down 1-0 and Gaby Sanchez hits a shot deep to left-center where you are sitting in the second row. Milwaukee left fielder Logan Schafer makes a break on the ball. Annnnnnd … what exactly happened that landed you in this clip?
I alligator armed a baseball. I basically became the Todd Pinkston of Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Though I was in way less danger, but acted like a bullet was coming for my head.
Did you at all consider getting in the way of Schafer? It would have resulted in a game-tying home run. You did a sort of reverse Bartman.
I did consider it initially, but I was in the second row, so I had no chance of interfering with it. Once I lost sight of the ball, my only concern was don't be the guy who gets beamed with a home run ball. I kind of wish I got hit with the home run ball now.
Do you know the other people in the clip? Bucket hat girl. The guy in the Under Armour hat. Backwards hat guy. Dear god. Backwards hat guy.
I only knew the larger gentleman to my right. My other friend completely jumped from the section and hid behind a small child. He was much smarter than I was.
How soon did you know that your moment had been caught on camera and that you looked … not so good?
About 30 seconds after it happened, I got bombarded with text messages and tweets from a few friends. Never imagined other people would see it and jump on it. I actually feel less embarrassed now that it isn't just my group of friends. I would rather be laughed at by a large group, than laughed at by a small one.
What was your reaction to that?
Initially, I was a little peeved at myself. I've been going to games since I was 4-years-old. Never have I ever ducked in complete fear like that. Not my proudest moment, that's for sure. However, I maintain that I did the only thing anyone would do; self preservation. I just looked like a fool doing it. A complete and utter fool.
Was there a sense of community with the other fans who ducked out of the way? Did your mutual cowardice in the face of a baseball forever bind you?
There was a strong sense of community. Everyone decided in that moment to stick together and pretend the situation was much more dire than it actually was. Honestly, I feel like it's similar to leaving a hostage situation. Everyone in section 137 is now bonded forever. To quote the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates: We Are Family.
How did other fans in your section treat you following the play?
Honestly, other than the few people around me, no one really thought anything of the play. We definitely didn't expect it to become anything other than a footnote. Most agreed that they would have done the same thing, but probably looked way less like a jackass.
Did you fear that if the Pirates lost, they were going to finish 1-game under .500 or 1-game out of the playoffs and it would be all your fault? Did you fear you had become Pittsburgh Bartman?
My general fear was if we lose this game and start to collapse, I could never forgive myself for not at least trying to distract the Brewers outfielder. But lucky for me, these Pirates have no fear. They do not take after me.
How happy were you when Andrew McCutchen tied the game in the 8th … and then when Russell Martin won it in the 14th, thereby somewhat getting you off the hook?
I was so relieved. Not even thinking about my terrible moment of crippling fear. I was just happy my team won a ballgame. Honestly, couldn't care less about how stupid I looked once the Pittsburgh Pirates walked it off.
What have you learned from his harrowing life experience?
If you think a baseball is going to hit you in the face, let it. You might lose a few teeth, but everyone will respect you for it. Though at the end of the day, I may have looked stupid, but the Battlin' Bucs bailed me out.