9 Hardest Balls for Spectators to Catch

You. Yes, you. The one reading this article. Look, we love all our readers. But chances are you do not get paid to catch a ball. If you do, please tell everyone you know who also gets paid to catch balls about us. This list is about the hardest balls to catch in probably the only position we find ourselves catching them: as fans.

No. 9: Baseball


Every year, major leaguers hit 73,000 foul balls, to which 53,000 travel into the stands. Skipping all the rocket science and econometrics involved, you have less than a 1% chance of catching a foul ball at a game. Enter Zach Hample, a “professional baseball collector” who has caught 9,475 balls since 1990. Evident by his reality, catching a baseball can’t be that difficult. His secret? “Have nothing better to do.” – Zach, probably…

No. 8: Tennis


In many tournaments, it’s common for the victor to sign three balls, acknowledge the crowd, and launch the balls into the upper deck. So, as a fan, although improbable to catch, not impossible given the guarantee. This is where the commoner would excel in professional tennis, seeing as every person who played as a kid quickly turned forehand practice into home run derby.

No. 7: Hockey


If you’ve ever been to a baseball game, there’s a good chance you’ve had a ball hit to your seating area. At a hockey game, you have a better chance of seeing an Octopus or Leopard Shark than a hockey puck. Although, difficult, it’s not impossible – much like going to the gym in the morning (let’s be honest, it’s impossible). There’s always at least a few pucks that sneak over the side glass and into the crowd.

No. 6: Soccer


It happens. But in order to catch a soccer ball, you actually have to go to a game…

No. 5: Basketball

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James falls into Ellie Day, wife of PGA Tour golf player Jason Day, at left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, in Cleveland. (John Kuntz/The Plain Dealer via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; NO SALES

Just like Iggy Pop and Jim Morrison, basketballs do make it into the crowd every now and then. The caveat is that only people down front get to experience this leather, and most other fine leathers. To be honest, you have just as good of a chance to catch a player as you do a basketball. Just remember if you catch a LeBron James, throw it back. No one deserves that kind of baggage in their life.

No. 4: Golf


When a McIlroy or Spieth tee shot slices into the crowd, most people make a conscious decision to leave with their life rather than a ball. But what makes catching a golf ball so difficult is not your lack of coordination, but Rule 19-1 of the USGA which states, “spectators are not allowed to deliberately deflect or stop a ball in motion, but can deliberately dress in clothes that make you want to kick your own ass.

No. 3: Cricket


Not a sport. Moving on.

No. 2: Football


You have to be in the right stadium to catch a football. Because unless you’re a fan fielding errant passes from probably a Jets quarterback, the only way to get your hands on a souvenir pigskin is to be behind the posts at a certain college football game. In fact, at Auburn, you can be a mere pedestrian outside of the stadium and catch a ball, where they have a tradition of taking the opposing team’s kicking balls, passing them up to the nose bleeds, and launching them out of the stadium. 

No. 1: Table Tennis

Scotland's Gavin Rumgay giving himself a wedgie at the Table Tennis. BBC grab

There’s about a -5,000% chance you end up catching a ping pong ball at a table tennis…game? match? extravaganza? C’mon, have you seen these guys play? They are going into the crowd, ordering a pretzel, and opening the mustard packet all while keeping the ball in play. If you go to a table tennis…whatever, know you are not leaving with a ball.

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