Home run ball at Royals game taken from man’s glove celebrating 18th birthday

A Missouri man celebrating his 18th birthday had a great day at the game, but it didn’t start...
A Missouri man celebrating his 18th birthday had a great day at the game, but it didn’t start that way: “He just grabbed my arm and pinned it to his body, and opened up my glove and took the ball out, and ran off."(Bruce Williams/KCTV)
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 10:52 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV/Gray News) - A Missouri man celebrating his upcoming birthday had a great day, but it didn’t start that way.

Bruce Williams, who soon turns 18, was celebrating at Sunday’s Kansas City Royals game against the San Diego Padres. He had one wish: to catch a home run ball from Padres star Juan Soto.

“Juan Soto’s playing. Juan Soto’s going to hit a ball to me,” he said. “I knew it’s coming to me. I know I’m going to catch it. No problem.”

It happened. During the seventh inning, Soto stepped up to the plate.

“He blasted it, and it just sailed through the air,” Williams said.

On the Pepsi Porch, he stood up with his glove, ready to catch the ball. Another fan went for it, but Williams reached over him and caught the ball. Then the man stole it from him.

“He just grabbed my arm and pinned it to his body, and opened up my glove and took the ball out and ran off,” he said.

The man tried to give Williams a No. 62 Sam Gaviglio jersey. He’s a pitcher who appeared in four games for the Royals in 2017.

“I told him, I said, ‘No, I don’t want the jersey.’ I said, ‘Give me the ball.’ He said, ‘Nope. I’m not going to,’” Williams recalled.

Word of the theft was heard around Kauffman Stadium, including by Royals’ top brass. Nick Pironi, director of Guest Relations and Fan Experience, knew exactly what he had to do.

“What I got was one of every bobblehead I had in that collection,” Pironi said. “And, obviously, Bobby Witt Jr. being one of our young superstars, I happened to have an autographed ball from him.”

The Royals identified the man who took it as Mark Kirsch, a YouTuber known for a series called “Man vs. Impossible.”

“I was in tears when he stole that ball from me,” Williams said. “I’ve never seen anything like that or experienced anything like that.”

In an instant, Pironi righted the wrong.

“Me handing him this stuff, he just jumped toward me and he was crying,” Pironi said.

“Things were definitely made right for me,” Williams said.

Pironi also made a call to the Padres camp. Williams ended up with another signed baseball, this one from the player who hit the home run.

“He had a ball signed by Juan Soto. He wrote down, ‘2019 World Series champ,’ ‘Home Run Derby,’ and all that crazy cool stuff,” Williams said.

Soto also signed “Sorry about that,” turning the ultimate foul into the biggest birthday win.

“It made my birthday super. It really turned a bad event into a good one,” Williams said.

Williams hoped Kirsch would be banned from Kaufman, but Pironi said that was unlikely.

“He knew what he did was wrong,” Pironi said. “He immediately tried to rectify it by giving Bruce the Sam Gaviglio jersey.”