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TERPSTRA: Angels in the Outfield

By Kelly Terpstra,

There’s something strange going on at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum.

Is it in the water? Something in the air? Aliens or an unexplained phenomena?

Chalk this one up to I have no clue.

I can’t explain it. Maybe you, the reader, can?

Kelly Terpstra
Kelly Terpstra

What happened this past weekend at an MLB baseball game in southern California is one of the weirdest occurrences I have ever heard of — at least as far as sports are concerned.

This is a first for me and I don’t know if this can be duplicated. But it has, kind of.

I have gambled in my life, not a lot, but I’ve bet on horses, played slots, tried my luck at the craps table and will occasionally enjoy Keno or blackjack. I’ve seen some freaky stuff go down as far as statistical anomalies are concerned.

Flipping a coin and having it come up heads 20 times in a row? This beats that. Having lightning strike you twice in lifetime? The odds on that are 1 in 9 million. The off–the–chart odds to win the top prize in the Powerball jackpot — 1 in 292 million. I don’t know if what I am about to explain enters that particular realm of absurd luck, but it may be close

Here’s what went down on Sunday in a game between the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics.

Oakland’s Chad Pinder was batting in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs against Royals reliever Scott Barlow. Neither player is noteworthy and you can make a strong case that neither team is going to be of note come October. The A’s won this game 3-2, but the story on this afternoon was what an A’s fan was able to accomplish.

The peculiar play started when Pinder fouled off a 1-0 pitch just to the right behind home plate. A fan — first name Bill — snagged the foul ball and it was high-5s all around from his section. Bill, who attends about 10 A’s games a year and has since he was a kid, had never caught a foul ball before. That’s after watching decade after decade of A’s baseball.

Not even 30 seconds later, Barlow goes into his windup and Pinder takes another hack. Foul ball again. In the exact same spot!!!

Bill didn’t even have time to put the first foul ball in his pocket before the second one rocketed right up to him again. He barely moved a inch — didn’t even have a chance to catch his breath, and whack, here’s another souvenir for ya.

The look of utter shock and amazement on the A’s employee that was standing in the aisle next to Bill’s section was priceless.

Now, I’ve seen some weird things take place in the world of sports — stuff that defies logic. This enters into another category.  

Crazy, huh? Strange? Well, yeah.

Well, the same thing happened last year at an A’s game versus the Braves in Oakland.

For clarification purposes, this oddity where an A’s fan also caught two foul balls on consecutive pitches has to have a little asterisk next to it.

This gentleman’s name is Ryan Noone from Redwood City, California. He caught back-to-back foul balls off the bat of Danny Santana. The first ball ricocheted off the railing and Noone was able to catch it. He wasn’t stationary like Bill was. The second was caught a pitch later with Noone holding the first foul in his right hand.

Disclaimer — he caught both foul balls with a glove and was in an open mezzanine-type area where he could move around when encountered with this bizarre happening. He is also a season-ticket-holder. The kicker? He caught a third foul ball later in the 10th inning, a game the A’s lost 4-3.

I don’t know if the A’s play in some parallel universe or this is some sort of “master plan” conjured up by the baseball ggods to somehow make Oakland’s professional baseball team relevant again. But this scares me. I can’t wrap my head around this conundrum.

It’s just not possible.

SB Nation put the odds of catching a foul ball at a MLB game at about 1 in 600. If you catch two, that jacks the odds up to 1 in 336,400.

But on consecutive pitches and basically never moving a muscle other than your hands to catch both of them? Then to have that happen two years in a row at the same ballpark.

Creepy weird.

So after hearing about this unexplained rarity, I did some research and dug around some more. What did I unearth?

The cult classic movie “Angels in the Outfield” was filmed inside Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in 1994. The movie could not be shot at Angels Stadium that year because of the Northridge Earthquake that damaged the venue.

Divine Intervention and a signal from the heavens 24 years later?

FYI — both Oakland and the Angels’ stadiums were built in 1966.


Every list that I have seen that ranks the MLB’s best ballparks always has Oakland Coliseum near the bottom of the list or dead last. It’s usually them or Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. The A’s are the only MLB team now that shares its field with an NFL team – the Oakland Raiders, who are moving to Las Vegas in 2020.

I don’t know if this is the ghost of Catfish Hunter telling the A’s ownership that their fans need a new ballpark, but there’s something going on here — I just don’t know what.

What I’m taking out of the whole situation?

Life is a gamble and sometimes the odds seem insurmountable. Play the odds and you might just come up roses.

Bill sure did.