Home run ball taken from teen celebrating birthday at Royals game

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A Missouri teen had the birthday of a lifetime, but it didn’t start that way.

Bruce Williams, 17, was going to celebrate his 18th birthday early at Sunday’s Royals game against the San Diego Padres. He had one wish, which was to catch a homerun ball from Padres’ star Juan Soto.

“Juan Soto’s playing. Juan Soto’s going to hit a ball to me,” said Bruce. “I knew it’s coming to me. I know I’m going to catch it. No problem.”

It happened. During the 7th inning, Soto steps up to the plate and bats.

“He blasted it and it just sailed through the air.

On the Pepsi Porch, Bruce stood up with his glove, ready to catch that ball. Then, something weird happened.

“He was just bumping into me and trying to push me away from the ball,” said Bruce.

Bruce did his best to get around the man, reaching over him. He caught the ball, but then that man did the unspeakable.

“He just grabbed my arm and pinned it to his body, and opened up my glove and took the ball out, and ran off,” said Bruce.

Stolen right out of Bruce’s glove.

The man tried to give Bruce a Sam Gaviglio jersey. He’s pitcher who appeared in four games for the Royals in 2017. He wore No. 62.

“I told him, I said, ‘No, I don’t want the jersey.’ I said, ‘Give me the ball.’ He said, ‘Nope. I’m not going to,’” Bruce recalled.

The theft was heard around Kauffman, including by Royals top brass. Nick Pironi, Director of Guest Relations and Fan Experience, knew exactly what he had to do.

“What I got was one of every bobblehead I had in that collection,” said Pironi. “And, obviously, Bobby Witt Jr. being one of our young superstars - I happened to have an autographed ball from him.”

Pironi also made a call down at Padres camp. That part of the story comes later; keep reading.

The Royals identified the man who wronged Bruce as Mark Kirsch, a Youtuber known for a series called “Man vs. Impossible.”

“I was in tears when he stole that ball from me,” said Bruce. “I’ve never seen anything like that or experienced anything like that.”

In an instant, Pironi righted the wrong.

“Mid. me handing him this stuff, he just jumped toward me and he was crying,” said Pironi.

“Things were definitely made right for me,” said Bruce.

So, remember that call to the Padres? Bruce ended up with not one signed baseball, but two.

“He had a ball signed by Juan Soto. He wrote down, ‘2019 World Series champ,’ ‘Home Run Derby,’ and all that crazy cool stuff,” said Bruce.

Soto also signed “Sorry about that,” turning the ultimate foul into the biggest birthday win.

“It made my birthday super. It really turned a bad event into a good one,” said Bruce.

Bruce hoped Kirsch would be banned from Kaufman, but Pironi told KCTV5 that’s unlikely.

“He knew what he did was wrong,” said Pironi. “He immediately tried to rectify it by giving Bruce the Sam Gaviglio Jersey.”