Everybody knows that the worst thing a fan can do is throw back a home-run ball. Any baseball used in a major league game is the most cherished souvenir a fan can collect. A home-run ball is a part of history, however minute, no matter who hits it. Most fans will never catch (or retrieve) a ball of any kind, much less a home run. If an adult doesn't want a souvenir — which is perfectly understandable — then he or she should give the ball to a child who does. The worst people take home runs from kids and throw them back. Only unserious people throw back home runs. The act accomplishes nothing, other than to make the fan appear deranged. Imagine this postgame scenario:
"What did you do with the home run you caught at the ballgame today, daddy?"
"Oh, I threw it back."
(Child gives puzzled look, cries. Father lives with regret forever.)
Not only can throwing back a home run cause psychological damage, but it also can be physically dangerous, too. Some rube in a Detroit Tigers shirt nearly beaned Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter at Comerica Park on Thursday afternoon by throwing back a home run ball hit by Alejandro De Aza of the Chicago White Sox. Just ... dumb.
Not expecting one of his own fans to be so vacant, Hunter just barely jumped out of the way after the guy whipped the ball into right field from the bleachers. The home run counted anyway. And Hunter nearly got pelted.
Ballparks should make it easy on everyone and be uniform in their penalty for fans who throw objects onto the field: They throw the perpetrators out of the stadium and don't let them come back. Say to them, "You are fired as a fan." If only they'd do this at Wrigley Field, where the regrettable tradition began.