BOSTON — A lifelong baseball fan, Andrew Lastrapes had been waiting quite a while to scratch a trip to Fenway Park off his bucket list.
Lastrapes, wearing a black T-shirt and sporting a 5 o’clock shadow, set the internet ablaze Saturday afternoon when, in the top of the seventh inning of New York’s eventual 8-5 win over the Red Sox, he threw back a home run ball belted by Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
“I don’t think I looked at the field,” Lastrapes said to ESPN on Sunday, a couple of hours before flying back home. “I just grabbed the ball and threw it as far as I can.”
The throw, launched from the front row of the Green Monster, took a hop and bounced off Stanton as he rounded second base. Not missing a step, Stanton continued his trot, but turned his head, smiled and appeared to tip his cap.
“When the ball hit him, I was just like, ‘Oh, this might be a big deal,'” Lastrapes said.
Immediately, Lastrapes called out to a friend who was standing nearby. He told Thomas Barton they’d better leave. Barton, a 32-year-old Athens, Georgia, man, was a row or two below Lastrapes when the ball was thrown. In video replays of the throw, Barton, wearing a brown shirt, can be seen lifting his arms in celebration.
“I looked at Thomas and was like, ‘Let’s go,'” Lastrapes said. “So I left, and then I saw a bunch of security go down and [they] just missed me. And then I was one security guard left, and it was an old guy, and he was like, ‘Son, did you hit Giancarlo Stanton with that ball?’
“And I was like, ‘Yes.'”
Chimed in Barton: “It was said more out of shame.”
Lastrapes was apologetic about hitting Stanton. Multiple times, he made it clear he wanted the ballplayer to know he didn’t mean to hit him.
Fenway Park security had Lastrapes fill out some paperwork to document the incident. But according to him, security never formally kicked him out. He also was not told he was banned from the ballpark.
“I turned to Thomas and was like, ‘Whatever happens to me, I’m going to text you later,'” Lastrapes said. “They were like, ‘Nothing’s going to happen to you.’ They were pretty cool about it.'”
Why did Lastrapes throw the ball in the first place?
“Literally the last thing that we were talking about on that pitch was if a Yankee hits a homer — we had several conversations about it — but if a Yankee hits a homer, we have to throw it back,” Lastrapes said. “We’re Braves fans. We could care [less] about the game.”
Once they left the stadium, Lastrapes, Barton and another friend walked into a bar around the ballpark. They were done with baseball for the day. Big Georgia Bulldogs fans, they wanted to see how the Bulldogs were faring against Tennessee.
While watching the football game, friends started texting and tweeting, saying they thought they saw a person who looked like Lastrapes hit Giancarlo Stanton. Lastrapes never responded to the tweets he saw saying that. He simply liked the message and continued on with his day.
Stanton later had some fun with what happened, posting on Instagram a SportsCenter video of Lastrapes’ throw interspersed with clips from the 1993 movie “Rookie of the Year.”
Just after the game, Stanton laughed off the incident, telling reporters he could have caught the ball had he been looking for it.
“It happens all the time at our stadium,” Stanton said. “So not too worried about it. Plus, that could be a special ball. We needed it anyway.
“I think he lost some money, possibly, on it.”
Stanton’s solo homer, the Yankees’ major-league-record 266th of the season, increased New York’s lead to 8-2. Earlier in the game, Gleyber Torres hit a two-run homer in the fourth as the Yankees moved past the 1997 Seattle Mariners for the most in a season in major league history.
Giancarlo Stanton describes his reaction to being hit by his home run ball at Fenway Park.
“I’m a huge baseball fan, and I was not aware of that, embarrassingly to say,” Lastrapes said of the history his baseball helped set. “Even if I knew it, I don’t think that would’ve crossed my mind. I’ve always been like, ‘I’m at a ballpark, if a visitor hits a home run, I’m going to throw it back.'”
If anyone has an idea of how valuable the home run ball could have been, don’t tell Lastrapes.
“I don’t really care to know how much money that was,” Lastrapes said. “I don’t imagine it’d be that much. Do you?”
Regardless of what he may have lost, Lastrapes has been rich in sports experiences recently. He said he also was “walking up the fairway with Tiger [Woods]” as part of the galley at last weekend’s PGA Tour Championship in suburban Atlanta.
“It’s been an awesome week of sports for me,” he said, smiling.
Lastrapes added that last Sunday, he didn’t think he could have a sports moment top the experience of being around Woods as he won his first PGA Tour event in five years.
“That was so surreal to be right there,” Lastrapes said. “This one tops it, though.”
The fan said he played baseball growing up, and that a couple of times of year, he and Barton play catch. Considering he didn’t have a chance to warm up before making Saturday’s throw, he reported still feeling good Sunday: no soreness.
“Some people called us out for it being really elevated,” Lastrapes said of criticism he’s seen about his throw traveling so far. “That’s a decent criticism. I don’t think I would’ve landed it on the infield if I was throwing it from Yankee Stadium. It made it look better than it actually was because of how high up it was.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.