Toddler tosses back dad's prized catch

September 17, 2009 12:27:03 PM PDT
Dad simply wanted a souvenir. He got a ballpark full of cheers and a national television appearance instead. Steve Monforto made a grand catch of a foul ball at a Philadelphia Phillies game and gave his prize to his 3-year-old daughter. She quickly tossed it back toward the field, and all her stunned Dad could do was hug her.

"At the time I was just excited to give it to her," Monforto told NBC's "Today" show Thursday.

A season-ticket holder who shares Phillies' tickets with friends, Monforto said he didn't consider the possibility that little Emily might toss his treasure from the upper deck.

"I've been waiting so long to catch a foul ball, and over the edge it goes," he said with a laugh.

The family from Laurel Springs, N.J., still went home with a baseball Tuesday night after the Phillies' 5-0 win over the Nationals. Phillies executive Mike Stiles brought it to them in the stands.

On the "Today" show, they got another ball -- this one encased and signed by outfielder Jayson Werth, who hit the foul ball in the fifth inning and made the Monforto family famous.

The family of four also received personalized Phillies jerseys.

Monforto, 32, reached over the railing to make the grab, catching his first foul ball after years of going to Phillies games. He fist-bumped his buddies, high-fived his daughter and handed her the prize.

Then came the toss and the hug.

"I didn't want her to think she did anything wrong," Monforto said on WIP-AM radio Wednesday.

Philly crowds are known for being a tough bunch, but everyone at Citizens Bank Park cheered -- first his catch, then his cuddle.

"This was the true reflection of what Philly fans are like," said Bonnie Clark, the team's vice president of communications.

Cameras captured the scene of Monforto snagging Werth's foul, plus the toss and hug. The video was displayed at the top of the Yahoo! Web page and made the NBC national news.

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