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Down the Right Field Line

Rude People

I'm sure we all know them. You know who I'm talking about. Whether they are a vulgar security guard or just a coarse fan, I'm sure we've run into our fair share of rude people at the ballpark. Unfortunately rude people can ruin a night and turn a beautiful baseball game into hell.

One of my worst experiences with a rude person came on July 23, 2010. That night I was on a personal high because RAGBRAI XXXVIII was starting the next night in my home town of Sioux City, IA. I knew this was my last game before I embarked on my week long bike ride across Iowa, so I was pretty pumped and I hoped to put up a big number.

However, I swear Satan himself appeared at this game. A tall man in his mid 60s wore tight blue jeans, a red t-shirt, old glasses, and a red cap.

About two weeks before I'd had a run in with this awful specimen, after he knocked me down in the parking lot; which really scrapped up my hands and knees. The man then stumbled as he got up. His elbow landed on my ribs with some force, and it hurt a little. He then stumbled again and lied back on top of my chest. Somehow he stumbled for a third time and pressed my bloody hand even harder against the concrete.

"That's what you do to little kids" the man said as he got up.

It took me a second to realize that he did that on purpose. When I finally realized that his actions were intentional I was surprised to say the least. He also claimed I pushed him, even going so far as to tell his wife and the people sitting around him that I pushed an old man.

The man deceived himself into thinking that I really did push him when in reality I ran right past him. Then he even verbally confronted me in the cross aisle above the visitors dugout as I went for the thirdrd out ball to end the game.That night he called me a "greedy boy", among other insults.

Still, I prayed, forgave him, and it seemed like things would go back to normal. I even asked myself if I really did push him, and I felt bad for saying some of the things I did.

On July 23, I snagged four balls at Batting Practice and I snagged another six balls before the bottom of the sixth. I was on a roll! However, in the bottom of the sixth, this idiot ventured into my territory.

At first, I ignored him, until he walked behind me. I held my ground, a small patch of grass just beyond the visitors dugout and just behind the first base bleachers. A foul ball headed in my direction and I lunged after it. (Only one kid was around and he was not paying attention.) Success! I had my 11th ball of the night!... or so I thought.

Not soon after another group of kids came down after seeing the baseball hit in that direction.

I picked the ball up, and saw the scuff that the concrete made when it hit the pavement near the equipment shed near the right field foul pole. I thought I'd had enough for that night and I knew it was about time to give a baseball away. "Come on man. Give it up" I heard a young man in his early twenties shout from the the top of the bleachers. "You've gotten like 5 tonight man, give it away".

"Ok!" I said happily.

As my arm was cocked and about to toss it to the one kid there Satan Suddenly demanded "Give it away!"

"Why?" I scoffed.

"Give it away!" Satan demanded once again for no apparent reason.

"Why?" I laughed. Inside, I felt a crater developing in my stomach, and I wondered what power this creature actually held.

Just a few days before that I learned that Satan actually worked for the team, though I wasn't sure of his position, and I knew he'd seen me sneak in once or twice; like any kid occasionally does.

As Satan hurled insults I stood my ground amidst a hail of verbal gunfire. As I expected, he asked to see my ticket. I knew he couldn't do anything, but he wanted to see it anyway; convinced he could in fact play God.

"I don't have one" I said and shrugged it off. That night I waited until the box office closed at 8:00 PM and simply walked in. (It is perfectly ok to do this at my home stadium and has been done by many people for years.)

As he continued to lob mortars in my direction, I tried to stay focused on the game. I didn't flinch, only looking at him between pitches, and stating my goals for that night in my head. I was determined to get to a dozen, and I desperately wanted a home run!

In my head, I wondered how a 65-year old could possibly bully a high-school kid and justify it as sticking up for elementary aged kids. I tried multiple times before and during that altercation to explain that I give my fair share of balls away, and I simply collect baseballs because I love the game.

Satan only refuted my pleas, saying "Are you a greedy boy?"

"Why do you take balls away from kids?" he screamed!

"Why?" he said again. "Answer me boy!"

I held my ground and somehow shouted rather polite insults without cursing.

"Are you stupid?" He said.

My mind drifted to my wrestling and football skills, and I thought about tackling the guy to put an end to this nonsense.

"No!" I wispier to myself.

I wondered how someone could be so prejudiced based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever other than the fact that I have an affinity for collecting baseballs and baseball memorabilia.

As the game progressed somehow things got worse. By now I was up to a dozen, but the right handed batters didn't hit anything even close to the warning track. In the bottom of the eighth inning Satan made sure parents and kids watched as he walked into the equipment shed, pulled out a bucket of batting practice baseballs and gave a cloud of elementary school kids one ball each.

"Oh boy... " I said aloud." That Stupid ****! I knew he would pull that ******* ****! How the **** could he ******** do that? What the **** did I do wrong?" I screamed in my head!". Now I was desperate! With all the chaos I didn't feel like giving away a ball. Though I'd been doing absolutely nothing illegal, immoral, or even rude I looked like the bad guy because I didn't give away one freaking baseball!

Parents and kids hollered insults at me after that as I continued my quest through the bottom of the bottom of the ninth inning. "What did I do wrong again?" I said aloud while on the verge of tears.

I nearly threw up as I saw parents shaking his blood red hands and thanking the Devil. Occasionally I will get a thank you from parents after giving away a baseball, but these people seemed to be worshiping him.

"You are such a good person" I overheard one mom say. One kid said "I love my baseball thank you!" I overheard one dad say "wow, that was an amazing show of kindness."

Did I hear them right "Was he just called a good person? And did I hear the word kindness being said to such an evil creature?" They obviously ignored the fact that he harassed a 17-year old for well over an hour.

I chased after another two foul balls before the ninth inning was over, each time hearing "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" Once Satan even shook the fence as I tried to hop back over.

That night I didn't provoke anything. I just attended a baseball game. I thought it'd be a harmless outing at the ballpark just like most nights, but now I know that if other people want to, they can ruin a baseball game for you.But you can stand firm against these types of viscous attacks. Here are four things you can do to stand up to rude people.

  1. Stand your ground: Nothing will stop a rude person more than standing your ground and showing that you are a strong person. Just try to ignore their insults and keep playing your game so to speak. Keep your eyes on the field and state your goals in your head. Remember that you didn't go to a baseball game to have that/those idiot(s) ruin your fun. You may have spent a lot of money on the game, so stay calm and collected. If you need to tell security, and if they are a security guard or usher, do your best to walk away and stay in the game.
  2. Do not retaliate: Again, try to stay calm and be the bigger man. Do not physically or verbally assault the person. Verbal assaults will only provoke the person even more, and physical assaults may get you into legal trouble. Assaulting the person will only make you look bad!
  3. Try to calmly tell the person why they are wrong: This will probably not work, but try to calmly tell the person why their prejudices are not right. Explain to them that you are a human too, and you are just doing something that you love.
  4. Walk Away: As I stated above, this may be the best solution for the rude person problem. If you can, walk away and play another area with similar characteristics, but only walk away if it is absolutely necessary. Do not let that person change your stratagem for that night. Walking away from your spot only lets the wrong person win. Walk away only if you think that you cannot handle this situation by staying there.

Phil Joens is a contributing columnist to and also maintains a Blog.

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