The Mariners right fielder dove into the stands to make an incredible grab Saturday night. Should fans offer a helping hand? Get out of the way? Here's what a new expert has to say.
The question seems relevant, and Mitch Haniger is the perfect person to ask following his ridiculous catch on Saturday night where he jumped into the stands in the right field foul territory of Safeco Field to haul in a pop-up.
To their credit, the fans on the wall never interfered with Haniger on the play, allowing him to make the catch. To their criticism, they also didn’t offer any sort of help when he fell back first onto the concrete beyond the wall.
“I’ve run into a lot of walls, but never gone over one,” he said. “I knew I was going to hit it. When I landed, I kind of landed on the wall and my legs came up over me.”
So what should fans do in that situation?
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“Um, maybe just don’t get in the way so you can make the catch and then whatever they can do after,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not too hard of a fall.”
Haniger also kicked a guy right in the face as his feet went over his head. But his dismount wasn’t too painful.
“It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “It probably looked worse than it was. I hit my elbow, back and a little bit of my head. Luckily nothing too bad.”
The wall in foul territory is much lower than the outfield wall. So it leads to that kind of fall on a catch.
“That low wall over there has always worried me that somebody is going to take a header in there,” manager Scott Servais said. “He got there and flipping over there like that, all the outs are big. Our guys are playing hard. They don’t really care.”
Given the situation, it was a crucial play. With a run having already scored in the inning and a runner on second, Haniger’s willingness to sacrifice his body and safety gave the Mariners a key out and kept James Paxton from throwing additional pitches in a game where he went the distance.
“That was quite a play,” Paxton said. “He’s one of those guys that would run through a wall for you, literally. He was great out there.”