WATCH: Yankees fan throws HR back, nails Brett Gardner

Throwing a home run ball hit by the opposing team back onto the field has become such common practice that most fans would reflexively wind up and rifle the offending baseball back onto the field as if it were a hand grenade. Personally, I would never commit such an outlandish act. If I’m lucky enough to get my hands on a ball, I’m keeping it. No questions asked. That may be difficult in Wrigley Field, where the custom originated, but I would still give it a shot.

That’s my own reason behind keeping a ball, and you can agree or disagree with me if you like. You can toss that once-in-a-lifetime souvenir back if you want, but at least take a second to look before you fire away.

This afternoon in the Bronx, Jose Bautista knocked his 26th home run of the season out of the park. One lucky Yankees fan heeded the advice of the rest of the Bleacher Creatures and launched his game used baseball back onto the field of play.

The only problem was, left-fielder Brett Gardner happened to be standing in the way.

The errant projectile struck Garnder, whose back was turned. Gardner wasn’t hurt and stayed in the game. It’s hard to imagine a fan being able to get enough velocity behind a baseball, especially when fueled up with a few $12 Bud Lights, but it’s still never pleasant getting hit in the back with a baseball, or even worse, the head. At this point, the practice of throwing a ball back has become so second nature that it’s hard to see any move to outlaw it, and a player being hit happens so rarely that it probably doesn’t need to be. The Yankees do supposedly reserve the right to eject any fan throwing a ball onto the field, but the rule would seem to be very loosely enforced.

But, fans, throw the ball back if you must, but give more than a passing glance to the action on the field before rearing back and firing blindly. And perhaps, just take an extra second to consider keeping the ball all to yourself. Who knows when the next ball is going to land in your lap.

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