Sports fans and TV analysts were outraged when a pair of Texas Rangers fans grabbed a foul ball even as a little boy’s father was trying to snatch it for his son. But the couple has told ABC News they had no idea someone else was going for the ball.
And today on “Good Morning America,” the child’s parents, Crystal and Kyle Shores, said they too think the outrage was misplaced.
“It all looked worse than it was,” Crystal Shores said. ” We don’t think at all that they did it on purpose or that it was intentional or anything like that.”
The drama began innocently enough on Wednesday night, when Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland gamely tossed the ball into the stands for fans during the eighth inning of the team’s home game against the New York Yankees.
Video captured by the YES Network showed a couple scooping up the ball, much to their own delight, right in front of the Shores’ son, Cameron, who had watched his dad reach out to try to grab the souvenir too.
The camera stayed on Cameron as he burst into tears, while the man who caught the ball and his female companion are all smiles, posing with the ball and laughing, seemingly oblivious to the distraught child sitting right next to them.
“Cameron has been down in that seat once before and received a ball so the expectation was, when we were heading down that way, that he hoped to get a ball that day,” Kyle Shores said on “GMA.”
Deadspin.com was first to report the on-air outrage from Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay as he watched the replay.
“Oh, my God, they can’t give it to the kid?” he said. “They’re actually like rubbing it in the kid’s face. Very cold.”
But the fans in question, Sean Leonard and his fiancée, Shannon Smith Moore, said they would never have intentionally taken the ball had they known the little boy wanted it. They said they were unaware of the drama playing out right next to them.
In a statement provided to ABC TV affiliate WFAA in Dallas, the couple said they were “honestly unaware of the situation of the little boy sitting next to us last night since we were so caught up in the excitement and moment of being at our first Rangers baseball game together. Please know that as the parents of a soon to be combined family of seven children, Shannon and I completely understand how upsetting a situation like that can be for a young child surrounded by the chaos and excitement of a ball game. Again, we would never intentionally taunt and/or wish to see a young child disappointed in such a way.”
The couple also said they offered the ball to the little boy, but he was smiling and seemed happy. That’s because someone from the Rangers organization, seeing what had happened, had tossed him a ball from the team’s dugout.
“We talked to them for a while and they were very nice,” Crystal Shores said of fans in question. “They were very nice with Cameron. They were comparing the balls and talking about hitting the balls.”
The Rangers organization has also announced they are giving Cameron his own Texas Rangers jersey and a baseball signed by all the team’s players.