ATLANTA — Kole Calhoun will always cherish his childhood memory of catching a foul ball hit by Tony Gwynn in spring training.
“I thought that was the coolest thing in the world,” the Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder said Saturday.
Now that he’s 33 and in his ninth major league season, Calhoun can still appreciate those moments — especially when he was inches away from watching another kid enjoy a similar highlight.
In the fourth inning of the Diamondbacks’ 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, Calhoun ran toward the stands to try to catch a foul ball hit by Austin Riley. Calhoun reached into the stands, thinking he could make the grab.
Instead, a boy wearing glasses and holding a baseball glove made what Calhoun believed was a very difficult catch near the netting that protects fans.
Calhoun said Saturday he initially wasn’t sure if fan interference might be called. But because the ball would have landed in the stands, it was within the fan’s rights to catch it.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo left the dugout for a brief consultation with plate umpire Vic Carapazza.
“I know Kole said there was a little bit of a glove wrestling match,” Lovullo said Saturday. “… Kole told me he would have had the ball if not for the interaction.”
Riley, who earlier hit a two-run homer, got a second chance because of the wayward foul but couldn’t take advantage — he struck out.
Calhoun enjoyed the fan’s reaction to the play.
“He was almost surprised the ball landed in his glove,” Calhoun said. “… Give him the satisfaction. That was a heck of a play.”
After hearing the umpire call it a foul ball, Calhoun gave the fan a fist bump.
“You have to think about where he was sitting,” Calhoun said. “He had the net right in front of him so that ball was right on top of him. I felt like he kind of looked at me and right at his glove like, ‘Oh, my gosh! I caught it!'”
Added Calhoun: “I just thought it was awesome. That was a heck of a play to make. He just stuck it like no problem.”
Calhoun visited the fan again in the eighth inning.
“I told him, ‘You realize you’re going to be the No. 1 play on SportsCenter tonight,'” Calhoun said. “He looked at me right in the face and said, ‘I’m already blowing up on TikTok.'”
Calhoun did not have a hit in the game but still had a highlight to enjoy.
“It brings out the kid in you,” he said. “… It kind of brings some perspective. That’s why we play the game. That kid is never going to forget that. What a moment for him.”