On the way to watch the Tampa Bay Rays play the Texas Rangers at their home field on Saturday, 7-year-old Mary Grace Hartman lamented she had left her glove at home. Her dad, Rob, reassured her that it likely didn't matter, given how rare it is to catch a foul ball at a game.
"I said, 'You know kids, it's really rare to catch a ball. You know how many games I went to as a kid, and I never got a baseball. It never happens!" he told TODAY Parents.
Luckily, Mary Grace's big brother Joseph did bring his mitt, because he proved his dad should never say never. The 12-year-old Little League and travel baseball team veteran caught a foul ball hit by the Rays' Austin Meadows and made it look like he does it every day of the week.
But it wasn't the great catch that is winning Joseph attention now. After he caught the ball, the boy ran giddily back to his seat where his dad and siblings — including brother William, also 7 — were waiting, and he immediately handed the ball to his little sister without hesitation.
The gesture won Joseph a huge hug and the notice of the Rays themselves, who posted the moment on social media. "Big Brother of the Year Award. It's settled," the Rays wrote. The video clip has since gone viral, with more than 2.2 million views and counting and over 20,000 shares on Facebook. In the comments, people praise Joseph for being a sweet big brother and say the video made them cry.
The Hartmans, who live in nearby Temple Terrace, Florida, attend the Rays' spring training and regular season games. They have nabbed balls before, but never by catching one directly. Joseph had the lucky ball autographed by both the Rangers' and Rays' team mascots and Mary Grace now has it on display in her bedroom, her dad told TODAY Parents.
Parents everywhere are asking: Is Joseph always this sweet to his siblings? And if so, can we get directions on how to make that magic happen? His dad said Joseph is still "a 12-year-old boy. That's all I'm going to say!"
Though his kids experience sibling rivalry and "siblings will always be siblings," they love each other and Joseph is in fact "a really good kid," he said.
"That was one of those moments when his real kindness just came out," he said. "It was just his instinct; he didn't think about it."
Joseph himself plays baseball "pretty much year-round," said his dad. He wears #39 on his travel team jersey in honor of his favorite player, Tampa Bay's center fielder Kevin Keirmier.
Hartman said not to worry about Joseph and Mary Grace's brother William, who went home without a ball of his own. He was more interested in the peanuts, his dad said.