May 25, 2024

Meet ‘foul ball guy,’ Mariners fan who went from 1-in-10 million catch to throwing first pitch

Catching a foul ball at an MLB game doesn’t typically turn into an opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the next game. But snag foul balls on back-to-back pitches, and it may be time to start warming up your arm.

For Josh George, it was a reality. With a baseball in hand, George was standing on the mound at T-Mobile Park getting ready to toss the opening pitch before the Seattle Mariners’ game Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals.

George’s improbable position on the mound in an MLB stadium started in the bottom of the first inning of Monday’s game. Brady Singer’s second pitch of the evening, a sinker, was fouled off by the Mariners’ Josh Rojas. Kansas City left fielder MJ Melendez tracked the ball to the wall in foul territory, but it found its way into the stands, landing in George’s arms. Then, on the next pitch, Singer lofted another sinker into the zone. Rojas again made contact, with the ball sailing down the left-field foul line, finding its way to George.

“Honestly, W-T-F,” George spelled out as he recollected his reaction to the catches. “I had no idea what was really going on. I couldn’t even believe it. I had to look at them at first. I was looking at them like, ‘no way!’ then held them up to show everybody.”

There was only a .00001 percent chance of catching two consecutive foul balls, per MLB. That’s a one in 10 million possibility. George’s bewildered look as he proudly lifted both hands in the air with a ball in each perfectly depicted just how rare the feat was.

“Absolutely not,” George said when asked if he thought it’d be possible to grab two balls. “I thought that second one was definitely going to be going over my head. Sure enough, it was coming straight for me.”

He enjoyed the rest of Monday’s game, a 6-2 Mariners win, with his grandfather. Fans nearby dubbed him the “foul ball guy.” George said he spent roughly five hours looking at social media comments about his improbable feat.

After a local radio station gifted him tickets to Tuesday’s game with an invitation to batting practice, George was able to get both balls signed by Rojas. The two who share a first name will now forever be linked in implausible MLB lore.

But George’s luck from the day before didn’t stop — it rolled over. Shortly after signing the foul balls, Rojas informed George he’d be on the mound throwing him the first pitch in a matter of hours.

“I was meeting Josh and then he’s like, ‘Hey, they’re also going to have you throw out the first pitch,’” George said. “Luckily they let me get a couple practice ones in the back. It turned out alright, nothing bounced to the plate.”

And to think, George almost went to Seattle’s game Sunday instead of Monday.

“I got tickets to take my mom to the game for Mother’s Day and she wasn’t able to go with me,” George said. “So I ended up selling those tickets and bought the tickets I sat in (Monday), the day of. That kind of makes it even crazier. I wouldn’t have been sitting there if my mom was going with me.”

To take it a step further, had it not been for a reliable coworker, George wouldn’t have been able to attend batting practice to find out he’d be throwing the first pitch.

“My homie Jacob covered for me (Tuesday) so I could go to the game,” George said. “He came in on his day off and took over for me so I could go to the game.”

The universe was working heavily in George’s favor over those 48 hours, or maybe he was just due for some good luck.

“I’ve gone to 30-plus games and I’ve never even had a ball land in my section,” George said.

Required reading

(Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)