Keeping balls hit into the stands at sports events.

While watching parts of a soccer match, it hit me that it seems fans in all other sports except baseball have to give the ball back if they catch it while in the stands. Is this correct, or do any other sports allow you to keep it? Does it matter how far up in the stands the person is? What is the reason you can keep it in baseball- because they’re smaller and cheaper? And what if you refuse to throw it back, do they forcibly take it from you, or arrest you?

Could baseball for example pass a rule that states on the ticket that any historic ball must be returned?

Baseballs are cheap, get worn out quickly and are replaced frequently, and as part of the game, they are expected to leave the field of play. Football, (American and otherwise) doesn’t have a box of their respective balls sitting over there to replace a lost ball. Not to mention the higher price of footballs and soccer balls.

Golf balls belong to the golfer, so he/she may do whatever they want to with them.

As for returning caught soccer/footballs/basketballs, I’m sure some venues have security to enforce that this expensive equipment is returned, and the team has a spare or two to use while the caught ball is being retrieved.

Football stadiums have nets drawn up for extra point attempts, so catching a football is even more rare.

But there is an off-chance that after a game, the ball will be thrown into the crowd for one lucky fan!

Hockey pucks that go into the stands can be kept by whoever catches it.

Though catching a hockey puck can be even trickier (and more painful!) than catching a baseball.

You used to be able to keep footballs that made it into the stands from Arena games. And if you’ve seen an AFL game, you’ll know that the stands come up right to the field of play (even closer than basketball.) Not sure if they still let you keep the ball.

Never mind.

It doesn’t bear repeating.

Don’t know about basketball, but the AFL actually promotes the fact that balls that reach the stands are kept by the fans. When a QB has to throw a ball away to avoid a sack, they call it a souvenier ball.
The NFL doesn’t let fans keep ball, even in the unlikely event it happens. The only exception is when a player tosses it up, in which case that player is charged the cost of the ball.

Isn’t the fact pucks are especially dangerous projectiles one of the reasons why the NHL now has Plexiglas barriers between the rink and the stands? I would think that since they started doing this, the incidence of pucks going to the stands has dropped to near zero.

I don’t remember when they put up the barriers. As long as I can remember. It is one of the reasons but certainly not the only one. Quite a few pucks still go into the stands each game.

No, they now have netting installed above the glass, this after a young girl got hit in the chest with a puck and died. Happened a few years ago, so yes now it is rare unless it goes out somewhere along the side boards.

Tennis I believe lets you keep them, in those rare cases when an overhead smash bounces over the back wall.

This is true. At the very first NHL game I ever went to, a lady caught one with her forehead.

Mine was the second hockey even I went to and it was a guy fairly close to our seats. He actually got stitches and came on back. Pretty tough.

As far as baseball is concerned, isn’t it part of the “fandom” and game play? One of the most fan participation parts of that game is catching a fly ball. Its expected for them to keep it.
Slight Hijack, did anyone see someone throw back Bond’s ball in that game against the Cubs last weekend? Great!

That’s tradition at Wrigley Field, though, isn’t it? Not aimed against Bonds in particular, but if an opposing player hits one into the bleachers, the ball is routinely thrown back onto the field, accompanied by chants of “Throw it back! Throw it back!” no matter who hit it.

That may be true but I bet they were chanting extra hard that time :smiley:

I have season tickets to the Buffalo Bills. A very few times I’ve seen the QB heave the ball in a panic or it took a really bad weird hop off a receivers hands into the end zone. Whoever catches it gets to keep it.

If a player intentionally throws the ball in the stands he gets fined. As well he should, the riot like scrum in pitched stands could kill somebody.

That’s pretty rare, the NFL’s stand is that they need to get the game balls back into the field. What will happen at Soldier Field, and I’d assume this is similar to most NFL stadiums, is that security will retrieve the game ball and the fan will get a practice ball from the home team’s sideline. Often signed by a couple players.

Same with Major League bats, if one of them flies into the stands, they take it back, and give the fan one from the dugout, though I believe pine tar is part of the issue there.

Someone on another message board I post on caught a football after a receiver threw it into the stands after a touchdown. It was that quarterback’s first NFL touchdown, so he wanted to keep it as a souvenir. Security apparently approached him and asked him to give the ball back, and in exchange gave him a different ball - not sure if it was a game ball of some sort, or just a replacement ball.

Cricket balls are hit outside the ground reasonably often (scoring 6 runs as they do), and they must be returned if possible, since the state of the ball has an great influence on the play. If the ball is actually lost, then it should be replaced with a ball that’s been in play for an equally long time.

Actually in a lot of these cases the ball which is thrown back is not the one which was originally hit into the stands. Some bleacherites secretly harbor a few “replacement” balls of their own and lob them out there, so the other fan can keep their souvenir.

To expand a bit, in case the OP is unfamiliar with baseball - the ball is replaced any time it touches the ground or a bat. So if it’s hit into the stands, it would be replaced no matter what.

Does anyone know what teams do with used balls once they leave the game? Do they sell them off (can’t find "Used balls anywhere on the redsox site), or do they just go into the practice ball bin?

Cite? I’ve seen quite a few games where a ball hit into play is thrown back to the pitcher and used again. I’ve also read biographies of umpires and pitchers that say a well-worn ball is a magic item in the hands of a talented pitcher.

The reference for this is in my home library, but the aforementioned autobiography of Ron Luciano (MLB Umpire) refers to umps and managers taking used balls as barter for drinks/dinner/whatever after the game. It’s amazing how a scuffed up ball will pay for a hefty tab.