Kansas City Royals identify man who took ball from teen fan at game — and make amends

Royals fan Bruce Williams’ 18th birthday is next month, so his father got him a special gift: two tickets to Sunday’s game against the Padres at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Williams made the two-hour trip from his house in Stockton, Missouri, with his cousin, Luke, and they were excited to have seats in a part of Kauffman Stadium for the very first time.

“It was my first time ever sitting at the Pepsi Porch and I saw we’re playing the Padres. Because of how interesting the Royals pitching has been these days, I was like, ‘(San Diego outfielder) Juan Soto is gonna put one out on the party porch, so I better bring my mitt,’” Williams recalled.

In the seventh inning of the Royals 15-7 victory, that’s just what happened.

“I was like, Man, I wouldn’t even be mad at Juan Soto hit a dinger as long as it went to me because we’re up by so much,” Williams said. “And then a couple pitches later, he just cracked it right out there.

“And I saw it coming to me and so I put my glove on real quick and I stood up right in my seat. Like it was right at me. And then all sudden, someone was just plowing over me. He was bumping into me pushed me to the side trying to get the ball and I reached over him and snagged it right out of the air.”

A decade ago, Williams had gotten a ball from a Cleveland player who was leaving the field, so he was excited to catch a home-run ball. But the thrill was gone in an instant as another spectator grabbed Williams’ mitt with both hands and took the ball.

After an awkward pause, the thief scampered away and returned with a couple of jerseys which he tried to hand them to Williams.

“No, I don’t want your shirts,’ Williams said. “Give me the ball.”

The man said, “No, I’m not going to” before dropping the jerseys.

Williams said the man, who was also at Friday’s Royals-Padres game, then left the scene and exited the stadium.

Williams said the jerseys were of pitcher Sam Gaviglio, who appeared in four games for the Royals in 2017. He wore No. 62.

In an email, the Royals identified the man who took the ball as Mark Kirsch, who is known for pulling planes and cars in an online series called “Man vs. Impossible.”

“At this time we are not banning Mark Kirsch from the stadium,” Sharita Hutton, Senior Director of Communications wrote in the email to The Star.

A fan at Friday’s game said friends had spoken with the man, who identified himself as Kirsch. During that contest, Kirsch had acquired at least a dozen baseballs after playing catch with Padres outfielders between innings.

Kirsch could not be reached for comment.

A happy ending

After Kirsch left the scene, Williams approached a security guard who said he had witnessed the theft.

“I just kind of complained to him about what just happened to me,” Williams said. “And then about 10 or 15 minutes later then, they got someone from guest services down there and he brought me a bag full of bobbleheads and a Bobby Witt signed baseball.”

It was late in the game, but the guest services worker asked Williams and his cousin to stick around after the final out.

Bruce Williams with the baseballs the Royals game him.Bruce Williams with the baseballs the Royals game him.

Bruce Williams with the baseballs the Royals game him.

“We waited around and sure enough, he came walking back,” Williams said, “and he had a ball signed by Juan Soto with some of his achievements written down on the ball and on the other side of that, ‘sorry about that.’

“It turned a pretty bad experience into a very good one.”