The baseball was hit high. It was deep. It was over the wall!
And so was Kenny Campbell, a 10-year-old fan who took a 15-foot fall from an outfield wall at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Fortunately, the young baseball fanatic emerged unhurt after he fell out of the stands trying to haul in a home run during the New York Mets’ batting practice.
“It’s kind of scary,” Campbell told TODAY co-hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira on Friday. “But I remember catching the ball and falling over the fence and thinking, I don’t want to land on my head, so I tried to do some sort of flip.”
Still, Campbell had enough sense to hold on to the ball after his crash landing. In fact, the shy kid from New Jersey wouldn’t let go of his hard-fought possession during his interview at TODAY.
“I’m feeling a little bit better,” he said.
Campbell, a Yankees’ fan at heart, was in Philadelphia with a group of friends and their parents to take in a key Mets-Phillies game. They arrived early for batting practice and anticipated any long flies that might come their way in the outfield.
But for one approaching shot, Campbell leapt forward just a little too far as he tried to catch it. He lost his balance and began an unnerving plunge out of the stands and onto the outfield warning track.
Campbell, who thankfully had some experience in bracing for falls on his trampoline at home, had the good sense to turn his body while in midair and wound up landing on his side.
The fall immediately got the attention of Mets’ starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey, who was shagging his own flies in the outfield. As Pelfrey turned, a shaken Campbell neared the pitcher for some security and collapsed at his waist.
It seemed, at least in this instance, crying in baseball was allowed.
As to what Pelfrey said to boy after he dropped in for a visit?
“I couldn’t really remember,” Campbell said.
Campbell was carried off the field to an EMT room at the stadium and later brought by ambulance to a nearby hospital for examination.
“I tried to figure out if he is OK,” explained Ken Campbell. “So I said, ‘Did you hold the ball?’ and he said yes.
“And I said, ‘Well, who’d you meet?’ and he said, ‘I met Mike Pelfrey.’ So I knew he was OK.”
The good news for Campbell is his fan fame won’t be as notorious as Jeffrey Maier, who reached over the Yankee Stadium wall to assist in Derek Jeter’s home run in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series.
Nor will he go down in history like Steve Bartman, whose ill-fated attempt to catch a foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series is now believed to be part of a Chicago Cubs curse.
And because his game experience was cut short, the Phillies have offered Campbell tickets for an upcoming game — in seats that, Lauer promised, will have a net. They also are providing him a bat and baseball signed by slugger Ryan Howard, one of Campbell’s favorite players.
But as for revisiting his on-field debut, Campbell isn’t quite ready. As the video replay of his scary fall played on the TODAY set, he declined to watch it.