I was on the aisle and I ran up to look at the kid, who was still wailing and being cradled by his father. From the looks of things it probably had glanced off his face so he was more shocked than actually stung. But he was crying pretty intensely nonetheless.
The poor guy across the aisle was surprised to be holding the ball himself. He wasn't motioning to his friends about his new-found loot or crowing to anyone that he had caught the ball; rather, he just sat there with the ball in one hand on his chest.
The crowd started yelling "give the kid the ball!" at the poor guy, who took all of fifteen seconds to think about it before reaching across the aisle and handing it to the kid. Very cool of the guy. Kid is still too shocked to show much appreciation, but takes the ball anyway. Rounds of applause from the crowd. Everyone goes back to watching the game.
Kid is still crying, but by this time the medical staff has brought him an icepack and he's sitting in his father's lap, holding the baseball in one hand. Guy who gave up the ball is still sort of expresionless, with the whole "how did I get into this situation in the first place" look.
I felt kind of bad for the guy. Again, I've caught balls before (never on the fly, however), and I know what a thrill it is. And this guy didn't even get a chance to revel in that glory, not for more than thirty seconds or so.
So after sitting back down with my friends and finishing my (second) beer, I went up the row and back to the concession stand, bought the guy a baseball, and came down and handed it to him while saying, "hey, man, that was cool of you to give that ball up." He smiled, sort of sheepishly and thanked me. And I went back down and watched the rest of the game (with my third beer in hand, btw).
Orel told me that he was going to buy the guy a beer. I think the ball was less expensive, for the record.
Anyway, at the end of the game, one of the guys in his party gave me his business card. "I was with the guy that you gave that ball to," he said. "That was really cool of you." And he handed me his card. Wow, now we're into some weird cosmic pay-it-forward thing, right?
Well, shoot, I'm going to continue it. I don't know if that guy wanted me to call him, or wanted to offer me a discount on his business services, or what. But if you're in the market for photographers, Steve Cohn Photography seems like as good a place as any to start your inquiries.
Long live karma!