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Gary Younge
Baseball fan catches flak

These are the moments baseball fans dream of: a chance to to take home a ball. What happened next turned Nick into a national hero. And another spectator, Matt Starr, became a pariah.

As Nick rose to catch the ball Mr Starr, a former youth minister, dived across to grab the ball, struck the child on the leg, and knocked him over as he stood up with the trophy. The aggressive catcher was caught himself, however, on television cameras. Nick's mother exclaimed: "You tramped a four-year-old boy to get this ball." Mr Starr said: "Oh well." The crowd chanted: "Give him the ball!" The Rangers announcer, Tom Grieve, called Mr Starr "the biggest jerk in the park", and Mr Starr left the game early.

By Tuesday reporters were at Mr Starr's house and a pastor, Rick DuBose, was telling the press: "He's not the bad guy he's made out to be. He loves kids, he did something he regrets." Meanwhile the O'Briens went to New York to appear on TV and were showered with more games tickets.

Mr Starr has apologised, returned the ball, and agreed to buy them more tickets.

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