Hunter Pence, the right fielder of the San Francisco Giants, has had a painful year so far. In June Pence tore his right hamstring, so badly that he required surgery and missed almost two months. Then just last week he fouled off a pitch that freakishly bounced off the ground and then right back into his cheek. Luckily he only missed one game.
Last night Pence was yet again involved in a freak play. For those who don’t know, AT&T Park in San Francisco, the bullpens are on the field. It is probably the only flaw in an otherwise beautiful baseball park. In parks that have bullpens on the left and right field foul lines it adds an extra element of danger to the corner outfielders.
In the top of the 5th inning, Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison came to plate with a man on second, 2 outs, and his Pirates leading by one 3-2. During his at bat, Harrison fouled off a pitch to right field. As he made the long wrong past the foul line, Pence tumbled on the bullpen mound (luckily nobody was warming up at the time) and buckled. That in itself would have not been newsworthy if not for the fact that after he fell there is no way that Pence should have made the play. See the insanity here.
Watching it in real time the first thought is “Oh, no. Is he okay?. Please don’t be hurt.” The fact that he caught it is almost an afterthought at first. It looks like it’s a fluke, that the ball just happened to land in his glove after the fall. Then when you watch it in slow motion you see how the catch is no fluke. When he tumbles and lands on his back his eyes never leave the ball until it lands safely in the leather.
With Pence’s wiry flaming beard and hair and crazy look in his eye, this catch is vintage Pence. It’s determined, incredible, and a little insane – just like Pence himself.