Foul Ball Catch Too Good to Be True
SCOTT SIMON, host:
All great and ignominious feats seem to make it to YouTube these days. What's on fire this week? A ball girl from a Fresno Grizzlies game. Let's have a listen.
(Soundbite of a baseball match)
Unidentified Commentator: That swung out, and driven deep down the left-field line, corner to corner. And this ball is going to be - oh, it's caught! It's not Jake Wald. That's the ball girl. Jake Wald in left field can't believe it. And look, she shows him up. She's just sort of tosses him the ball saying, take that, Jake. I don't see you making the effort. Oh, my! What an amazing play.
SIMON: It has to be 10 feet up in the air! But it's not just athleticism that launched her skyward, the stunt was rigged. We're joined now by Paul Kennedy, director of media and public relations for the Fresno Grizzlies. Thanks so much for being with us.
Mr. PAUL KENNEDY (Director, Media and Public Relations, Fresno Grizzlies): Thank you very much for having me.
SIMON: So how does she make such a spectacular leap, and how did this happen to be taped?
Mr. KENNEDY: Well, it was filmed as part of a national television ad campaign for a major beverage company that has since fallen by the wayside, I believe. The campaign, not the company. A production company came in in mid-April to Chukchansi Park here in Fresno. They filmed our game, and then they worked through the night to get this stunt choreographed and pull it off. But the star of the show was a stunt woman.
SIMON: And as I understand it, she had some technical assistance, didn't she? Like Peter Pan flying.
Mr. KENNEDY: Well, a little bit. This was actually a pretty low-tech stunt. She was strapped into a harness, and there were two ropes attached to that harness that went up above the wall where two other stuntmen were standing. And when she jumped, they basically just kind of tugged on the ropes and gave her a little bit of an extra boost. And she was athletic enough to pull it off and sell it as a real catch.
SIMON: What kind of reaction did you get?
Mr. KENNEDY: You know, like I said, this happened in mid-April with us. And we sort of forgot about it. We were waiting for it to hit the airwaves. And all of sudden, it wound up on the Internet. And it did take about four or five days for it to really catch fire. But when they put out the viral video, it was without the commercial voiceover and the commercial logo. And for the untrained eye, obviously, it could appear that it's just live game footage and...
SIMON: Believe me, that'd be an ESPN...
SIMON: (Singing) Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.
SIMON: SportsCenter highlight.
Mr. KENNEDY: Exactly. And that's one of the big reasons, I think, that our facility was chosen. If they tried to pull this off at AT&T Park in San Francisco or Dodgers Stadium in L.A., people would immediately say, well, that's got to be fake. But obviously, at the AAA level, maybe this could slip through the cracks and just find its way onto the Internet. And a lot of people were fooled. That was the biggest reaction. But the most interesting call was definitely from a college softball coach that called looking for the girl's information to consider recruiting her.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. KENNEDY: So the reaction in a lot of ways I think this has actually been better because there's been more buzz.
SIMON: Are you going to play this clip at a Grizzlies game?
Mr. KENNEDY: As a matter of fact, we're going to play it for the first time this weekend. On Saturday night, we'll unveil it on the video board.
SIMON: Mr. Kennedy, nice talking to you.
Mr. KENNEDY: Thank you very much.
SIMON: Paul Kennedy, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Fresno Grizzlies. And this is NPR News.