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Maybe the greatest catch you’ll ever see

Jul 17, 2012, 8:22 AM EDT

Jiwan James catch

I’ve watched this a few times and I still don’t know what to make of it.

Phillies’ minor leaguer Jiwan James scaled the wall on Saturday to make what appears to be one of the more ridiculous home run-stealing catches you’ll ever see.  He loses his glove when he comes down hard, but then holds the ball up that he somehow — miraculously — caught.

But watch the final slow motion replay of it. It sure as hell looks like the ball went past his glove and over the fence. But then … how did he so quickly come up with a ball in his hand? If it was some sort of sleight-of-hand, really, where was he keeping the other ball? And why? It’s not like keeping a ball on one’s person makes any kind of sense because how often would that come in handy?

The best I can figure is that when it goes past his glove — and it really looks like it went past his glove — it didn’t go over the fence. Rather, it came down right in front of the fence and into his bare hand and he amazingly held on.  Yes, now that I’ve watched it several times I’m 88% sure that’s what happened here because any sleight-of-hand theory is just too complicated.

That remaining 12% is because my brain isn’t quite able to process what my eyes are seeing here, but I am inclined to think that this is the greatest catch I’ve ever seen. You be the judge:

  1. paperlions - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    Yeah, looks like it hit him in the side (possibly after hitting the wall), you can see him react to it hitting him, and wound up in his hand somehow.

    • cur68 - Jul 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Probably lands in the crook of his right arm or it hits him in the crotch and he grabs it as he’s falling back from the fence. He sure looks like a guy who took one to the nuts, after. Fair catch, I think.

      • moogro - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:25 PM

        Cur nailed it, sort of. The glove hand went way past the ball, and that seems to be misdirecting you all. The ball hit the top of the wall first, then went into his chest and bare hand. The rules state the ball must be caught “in flight,” without hitting any other object first. No catch, and the runner should have kept on running.

    • dinkydow - Jul 21, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      Papertions, you’re right. In slow mo full screen you can see the ball hit the top of the wall and his glove goes over the wall and the ball somehow ends up in his throwing hand. It’s not a catch.

  2. heyblueyoustink - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    There’s the theory that that the ball somehow, for an instant, got caught between the wall and his body and fell into his hand on the way down.

    Personally, I think Jean Grey was involved somehow.

  3. thatyankeedude - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    I think this might beat Trouts catch this year but only because he pulled a friggen Houdini

  4. Isaac - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    I’ve watched this a bunch of times and I think what happened is that the ball hit him in the chest right as he caught it with his throwing hand, which could be why he slumps to the ground shortly afterward.

    It’s also possible that the ball actually hit the wall before reaching his hand. This is just my armchair analysis, so take it with a grain of salt.

  5. meyerwolf - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    It’s a great catch, though he was obviously lucky. Pause the video and keep pressing the space bar. You’ll see he tries to catch it with his glove and misses, only for it to land right in his bare hand. Great catch? Sure. But I think the tag of the greatest catch ever can only be applied to catches that weren’t by accident… 😛

  6. darthicarus - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    Bud Selig will use this video clip as Exhibit A for why baseball doesn’t need instant replay. Never mind the fact that this is one of the oddest plays you’ll ever see, Bud’s reality finds this to be the norm & therefore proof positive that instant replay is the devil.

  7. snowbirdgothic - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    If you frame by frame it, at 8 seconds you can see what looks like the ball on the inside of his left elbow. Looks like he got a piece of it with the glove and it rolled down his arm to where he could grab it with his off hand.

  8. Jonny 5 - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    It looked luckier than anything to me. But I’d rather be lucky than good.

  9. Pierre Cruzatte - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s just plain funny?

    He got himself all excited to make a HR-stealing grab, and wound up way overrunning a ball that looks like it would have hit (did hit?) two feet from the top of the wall. Ridiculously good save, at least.

    • bigleagues - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:44 AM

      Yep, you’re the only one.

  10. card0109 - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Pretty impressive. It looks to me like the ball got trapped between his body and the wall when he went up for it. I’m impressed that he had the frame of mine to even reach for the ball with his throwing arm after it hits. However, I’m not sure that this would have been a home run if he hadn’t been there. It looks like it would have been a triple, or maybe a double if he played the ball off the wall correctly. But being within two feet of going over the fence, I’ll give him credit for thinking that it was going over.

  11. ss - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    This seems pretty straightforward to me – Jiwan James was close friends with Nikola Tesla around the turn of the century. Tesla respected James’ athletic abilities, and James was an early adapter to alternating current, giving Tesla a nice name to add on to some marketing materials. Tesla told James about The Machine that he’d been building, a machine more powerful and dangerous and simply wrong than any other built before. But he thought James was the man to try the machine on, what with his obvious athletic gifts and sinewy strength, if any man could survive The Machine, James could.

    James entered The Machine, and a duplicate was made.

    James knew that some time in the future, the day would come when he would need to use The Machine to make an improbable catch. And he knew he had to do it in the minors, so their wouldn’t be multiple camera angles to parse his “catch.” As he leapt, he knew the time had drawn nigh, and flipped the switch of the miniaturized version of The Machine he keeps on his person at all times. The original went over the wall and went over The Wall, dying for this catch so we could be pretty impressed on a Tuesday morning. The duplicate rose, ball in hand, triumphant and shocked. It had worked. But at what cost?

    in some other time, Tesla wept.

    • ajcardsfan - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:49 AM

      The CIA and conspiracy theorists everywhere approve of this theory

      • Kevin S. - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        How about fans of The Prestige?

    • foreverchipper10 - Jul 18, 2012 at 11:41 AM

      Is this Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal?

  12. dowhatifeellike - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    It’s a trap!

    • heyblueyoustink - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Admiral Akbar, is that you?

  13. Francisco (FC) - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    I also think it tipped his glove and fell into his hand, if it had been caught between the wall and his body it would have dropped into the ground visibly and rolled away. If he did catch it was with his hand, not the glove.

  14. unlost1 - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    i say hoax. that’s not the same ball that was hit.

  15. kvanhorn87 - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    No link on my app??

  16. mcs7584 - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    Look at the footing of the light pole, it’s even with the top of the wall. That implies to me that there is solid ground, if not concrete, level with the circumference of the wall. Like everyone else, I can’t tell definitively but it looks to me as though the ball sails over the wall and ricochets back to his hands, which were over the wall to catch the ball, which is why he loses his glove over the wall.

    • phipfwe76 - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      I live in Reading and attend games often. The hill behind the wall goes all the way down to the base. There’s a walkway that wraps around the length of the wall the full 8 feet down. If that ball made it over, there’s no way it would bounce back.

    • anythingbutyanks - Jul 17, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      If that were the case, where is his glove?

  17. bigleagues - Jul 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    This catch brings to mind “some of those unusual moments in baseball from over the years . . .”

    In particular the guy at 0:34 of this clip . . .


  18. flyerscup2010 - Jul 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    cool, so can we bring him up after we send victorino to LA for about the same return we got in the awful bobby abreu trade?

  19. Bryz - Jul 17, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    There had to have been a second batter in the grassy knoll.

  20. ugglasforearms - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    “…but then holds the ball up that he somehow — miraculously — caught.”
    So this is really the greatest catch that I DIDN’T see.

  21. davidpom50 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    great catch, but I’m sticking with this one for greatest catch ever:

  22. jon623 - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    I have watched this over, and over, and over… almost to the point of exhaustion. The best I can come up with is that it hits the top of the wall, then falls ever-so-fortunately into his bare hand. I don’t know though. If he DID catch that on the fly, that’s ridiculous and crazy luck.

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