Greg Van Niel is the foul ball guy. During a July 2013 game at Progressive Field, the season ticket holder in Section 160 caught four foul balls. His story — complete with a postgame press conference put on by the Indians — appeared on ESPN and Bleacher Report. But that wasn't enough for the ball hawk. He caught another foul ball in a nationally televised game in June 2014.
People will probably hate me for saying this: I don't think it's that hard to catch a foul ball there. Our section is conducive to foul balls. It's close to home plate. If you just pay attention — and it helps to bring a mitt — you can be ready.
My boss' boss was at a bar, watching the game [last season]. They happen to show the foul ball go back and he's like, "Damn that Van Niel got another one!" When I came into work on Monday, people who watched said they couldn't believe I got another one.
I just gave [the foul ball] to my daughter. We usually go to games together. The other ones, the four — the first one I gave to my daughter, and then the second I said [to my nephews], "You two can share this one." I didn't expect there would be more. The third one I gave to the other nephew. The fourth, I jokingly threw into the crowd. The guy who caught that gave it back to me.
I grew up going to games. My best friend growing up, his dad worked for [New York Yankees owner] George Steinbrenner's ship building company. Steinbrenner had season tickets, but he only used them when the Yankees came to town. They were behind the visitors' dugout, so he could look in. I could swear that I was at Frank Robinson's first game as a player manager. I remember the ovation and everything. — as told to Jason Brill