Just read a story about an Allentown Police Officer being fired for allegedly breaking into Coca Cola Park and stealing 2 baseballs and an Ice Pop.
Full article from LehighValleyLive.com
An Allentown police officer was fired tonight after allegedly breaking into Coca-Cola Park and stealing two baseballs and an ice pop, according to sources.
That raised a question for me. Is there a written rule about baseballs going into the stands? We generally accept this as a part of the game these days but it always hasn’t been that way.
An article posted on PhillySportsHistory.com shows us of an actual court case involving our beloved Phillies and an 11 year old boy.
In July 1923, Cotter was an 11-year-old spectator in the bleachers at a Phillies game at the Baker Bowl. As luck would have it, a foul ball flew towards him and he made the catch. When ushers approached Cotter to get the ball back, Cotter refused, placing the ball in his pocket. Instead of letting the kid slide, the Phillies brass (owner William Baker and business manager William Shettsline) brought the 11-year-old to the police and demanded he be arrested. Baker and Shettsline decided that Cotter would be a good test case to get law on the books about the ownership rights to baseballs batted into the stands.
Charged with larceny, Cotter spent the night in jail and was in front of Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Brown the next day. After a Phillies’ witness testified that the team should have the right to get balls back from the fans, Judge Brown did what any reasonable person would have done: he lambasted the Phillies ownership:
“It don’t so far as this court is concerned. I never heard of Connie Mack or Tom Shibe throwing small boys into prison because they took a ball that was batted into the bleachers. They were boys. I don’t know whether you or Shettsline were ever boys, for if you were you would know how they cherish the ball they get, and you would permit them to have the ball instead of throwing them into a cell overnight.Such an act on the part of a boy is merely proof that he is following his own natural impulses … I wouldn’t brand this boy a thief just to help Mr. Shettsline save a $1.50 ball. If Mr. Shettsline wanted his test case, there is the decision.”
Cotter was released and the Phillies never prosecuted another child for bringing home a foul ball.
These days we gasp and police officers are causing uproars when children are cuffed and carted away for bringing drugs or firearms to school or causing a violent disruption. This kid spent time in the brig for keeping a foul ball.
While the details of the Coca Cola Park Caper are being sparsley reported, there seems to be something we are missing. Either this master criminal posing as a law enforcement officer drilled through the lock on one of the gates at CCP and snuck away with his two ball and ice pop booty or he is being singled out for something everyone does at a professional ball game.
We see dozens of balls hit into fan areas and even more tossed to amused fans by the players themselves. Would that make the players an accessory to the crime? Not to mention the hundreds of criminals that do not immediately return the balls to the team.
Note – I’ve only gotten two balls batted my way and I gave both back. Call me a good citizen or a dedicated fan. (Both were opposing team home runs)
The ice pop.. I just don’t understand the ice pop. Those freezers have locks and chains. It just doesn’t seem worth the effort. Speculating here, but maybe an employee handed him an ice pop and said “Don’t worry about it.” Perhaps he saw an unopened ice pop in the trash and helped himself? If we go by the rules at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem every piece of property has an owner. Someone drops a dollar bill there security cameras will identify who dropped it and if the person who picks it up doesn’t turn it in they are also charged with theft. Who knew helping yourself to that abandoned half hot dog in the trash could lead to charges…
Like the 1980′s episode of the Transformers that was on a few minutes ago, “There’s more than meets the eye” to this story.
If these are indeed the circumstances, I think the officer in question could use the above noted ruling as a legal precedence.
Either way, someone lost their job for something stupid. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.