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Video: Girl, 3, who threw back ball gets Phillies jersey

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    >> al, thanks very much. now the trip to the ballpark one family will never forget. we showed you what happened wednesday. longtime phillies fan caught his first ever foul ball tuesday night . he handed it to his 3-year-old daughter, emily , and she, well, she threw it right back over the upper deck railing. while, the family is with us, exclusively. steve, his wife, kathleen. 3-year-old emily and 15-month-old cecelia. how are you?

    >> we've played that video over and over . it's so funny and sweet. are you surprised?

    >> she got good hands. that's why she caught the ball.

    >> by ul after attention?

    >> very much surprised how much it's been over the last day and a half.

    >> i think it's great. first time you get a foul ball . you take a little bowl, high five a couple fans around you and and hand it to emily . would you have any idea she wouldn't know what to do with it?

    >> looking back, she gets a ball from dad, she's going to throw it. at the time i was excited to give it to her.

    >> your first reaction, was this moment of disbelief. i think you're mouthing the words , oh, no.

    >> my first thought , was, can i see it? i've waited so long to catch a foul ball . and over the edge it goes i didn't think i would ever get it back.

    >> what was so sweet how you immediately embraced her.

    >> yeah.

    >> i think she was a little startled by my reaction. i just wanted to let her know it was okay.

    >> we all learned a lot about your husband by the warmth of that embrace. although i have to mention that al yesterday questioned wetter it was purely a loving embrace or wetter he was squeezing the life out of her. just to set the record straight it was purely loving.

    >> very loving.

    >> how come you threw the ball. did you want to throw it down, or --

    >> yeah.

    >> you have a good throwing arm, emi emily . you really do.

    >> do you have fun at the phillies games .

    >> yeah.

    >> what's your favorite part.

    >> all of it.

    >> do you like the food there too? do you eat the hot dogs ?

    >> i eat hot dogs and cotton candy .

    >> wow, your parents let you have all of that? how much fun is that.

    >> you didn't get to keep the ball, steve, right?

    >> the phillies brought up another ball that they gave back to me and emily which was really nice. i don't know what happened to the original.

    >> they wanted each of you to have a special jersey. bring them out with your names on them and the date 09 to remember the day by.

    >> very cool.

    >> and there's one for everybody. and there's also this ball here, this is yours -- oh, no, that's not yours, that's emily .

    >> that's for em.

    >> it's a phillies jersey. and this ball was signed by jason who hit that foul ball . there you go. you can keep it in that glass or give to emand she can throw it.

    >> emily , have fun. it was great meeting you.

    >> good catch. really good catch. and nice throw. up next, what you don't know about the newest member of the "today" family , jenna bush hager right after this.

    >>> back now at 7:43. it's

By
TODAY contributor
updated 9/17/2009 8:42:28 AM ET 2009-09-17T12:42:28

Steve Montforto has been going to Phillies games since he was 3 years old. But despite having season tickets, in all his years of going to ball games, he had never caught a foul ball.

And then on Tuesday night, the foul-ball fairy finally visited the lifelong fan. He had accepted tickets from a friend that were better than his own — on the rail in the upper deck directly behind home plate.

Montforto’s long-awaited chance finally came when Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth hit a foul straight back. Montforto leaned over the glass barrier in front of him and, with hands that would be the envy of any major leaguer, deftly caught the ball.

His face glowing with the joy of realizing a lifelong dream, he exchanged fist bumps with two fans behind him. Then, bursting with fatherly pride, he handed the ball to his 3-year-old daughter, Emily. Emily took the prize in her tiny right hand and raised it high.

Then she threw it back.

Montforto never stopped smiling, even when he threw both hands up in shock at what his daughter had done with the prize he had waited a lifetime for. “Looking back, I should have realized that [if] she gets a ball from dad, she’s going to throw it,” Montforto explained to TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira Thursday in New York. “But at the time, I was just so excited to give it to her.

“My first thought was, ‘I’ve been waiting for so long to catch a foul ball, and there’s my first one. Over the edge it goes.’ I didn’t think I was ever going to get it back.”

But that feeling of dismay was quickly overwhelmed by his concern that Emily might think she’d done a bad thing. So he wrapped her in a bear hug, his face still lit by a big smile.

“I just wanted to let her know that it was OK,” Montforto said.

Overnight sensation
The fact that Montforto, who lives in Laurel Springs, N.J., was talking about the moment on TODAY is an indication of how deeply the moment touched the hearts of baseball fans everywhere. Overnight, the video of the moment became one of the most popular on MLB.com, and local newspapers cranked out stories about the cute little girl in the pink Phillies hat and matching shirt who threw her dad’s foul ball back.

Emily, still wearing her favorite pink hat, joined her dad on TODAY, along with her mom, Kathleen, and sister, Cecelia, 15 months, who were also at the game.

Emily seemed far more impressed by the cameramen and the activity in the studio than by her overnight fame. When Lauer asked her if she had fun at the game, she nodded emphatically and said, “Yeah.”

TODAY
Emily said her favorite things about going to baseball games were hot dogs, cotton candy and Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez.
She got a little chattier when Lauer asked her what she ate. “I ate hot dogs and cotton candy,” Emily announced.

Vieira asked what her favorite part of the game was. Emily did not mention her dad finally catching a foul ball, but, like any true fan, named her favorite Phillies player: outfielder Raul Ibanez.

Jersey girl
The seats the Montfortos occupied were right above the suite occupied by Phillies executives. When they saw what had happened on their replay screens, at least three executives independently went to get a baseball to take to Montforto. He got a replacement ball, but still doesn’t know what happened to the original, which may have landed in the hands of someone in the deck below — a gift from baseball heaven.

TODAY
Little Emily Montforto proudly displays her new Phillies jersey.

But on Thursday, it was the Montfortos getting the gifts, courtesy of the Phillies. The team sent official jerseys to New York for each member of the family. The jerseys had the family name “Montforto” on the back and the number “09” to mark the year they got them.

The Montfortos were delighted with the gifts, and Emily smiled happily when she saw hers.

There was one more gift from the defending World Series champions: a baseball in a plastic box signed by Jayson Werth, the outfielder who had hit the ball that Montforto caught and Emily threw. Montforto took the ball from Lauer and held it like a prize.

He didn’t hand it to Emily.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

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