Fun With Klassic Peter King: The Foul Ball Story

07.06.09 9 years ago 53 Comments

When we last left buxom donut magnet Peter King, he was preparing to take a monthlong vacation from his strenuous life of walking places, calling people, and eating things.

But just because Peter is away doesn’t mean we can’t indulge our worst impulses and make fun of him constantly. Why, this is the perfect time to delve deep into Peter’s archive of columns and saved voice mails. Today, we bring you a true classic, a story that reaffirms every suspicion you had that Peter King is a privileged twat. It comes from the March 31, 2003 edition of his column. Now, this column has lots of other adorably retarded features, like this letter…

WE NEED SPORTS IN OUR LIVES RIGHT NOW. From Scott Fagan of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: “Out here in the desert, with a war going on next door, it is a refreshing distraction and a good cure for homesickness to read a column by a great sportswriter. Keep up the good work. You questioned bringing in rivals to the Rams, specifically Kyle Turley and Jason Sehorn, as being harmful to the team chemistry, but it has worked in the past. Look at Bill Romanowski in Oakland. Turley and Sehorn may be just what the Rams need to get back in the game.”

Or this similarly themed letter…

FOOTBALL TALK IS NOT ONLY APPROPRIATE, BUT NECESSARY. From Jason Knight of Elmwood, Ill.: “Your concern for not wanting to trivialize current world events by discussing seemingly insignificant (in the grand scheme of things) sports issues is commendable. But as an Air Force captain who has been stationed overseas five of the past six years and who deployed to Saudi Arabia for three months in 2001, I can tell you such talk is truly needed. While serving our nation abroad, we need the release of watching the games on TV, of having sports discussions with our buddies, and of reading your articles online. Please continue doing what you do. It really does help us do what we need to do.”

Let me explain something to folks stationed out in the desert fighting for our country. I love you, and I’m glad you take solace in the occasional distraction. But dude, there are LOTS of distractions out there. It’s not like Peter King’s endless bullshit is the only option for taking your mind off all the excessive heat and bloodletting. Surely, you can do better than this. Like, for example, these photos of Bar Rafaeli. See? INSTANT FUCKING IMPROVEMENT. Am I right? So please, don’t blow smoke up Peter King’s ass telling him what a vital service he provides. He’s not the fucking USO.

Okay, now onto the foul ball story. Before we get to this, let me just state that, prior to this story, I was someone who genuinely enjoyed reading King’s column on a weekly basis, even if I skipped over all the softball crap. You have to remember that this was 2003. There were only five billion other websites back then, as opposed to the five trillion we now enjoy. Very limited menu. But this was where I reached my breaking point with King. Here we go.

This is going to do nothing but make you envious of me, and so I’m not sure if I should write it or not,

Then don’t. DON’T DON’T DON’T.

but I relate it only to let you know how thankful I am for the charmed life I lead

What are you, saying grace?

and to remind you that the next time I complain about anything job-related you need to put me in my place and tell me what a fool I am.

Six years later, King is bitching about not having free coffee in the lobby of the Laguna Marriott. LESSON: LEARNED.

Last Wednesday, at the conclusion of the league meetings, I had a 5:15 p.m. flight on Continental from Phoenix to Newark.


Being the baseball nerd that I am, I decided to stop in at the Arizona-Oakland exhibition game in Phoenix for a few innings, in large part because Randy Johnson was hurling. And so here came Miguel Tejada to the dish. Cool moment.

Lofty moment.

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner versus reigning AL Most Valuable Player.

Teach versus pupil. Master vs. Apprentice. Or something.

Here’s the pitch. Long drive to right … twisting … curving foul … deep … and 10 feet foul, over the fence. I thought — and I have my reasons why — what a good thing it would be to have that ball.

Oooh, he has secret reasons for wanting that foul ball THAT HE CANNOT DIVULGE TO YOU, FOR THEY ARE A MATTER OF NATIONAL FUCKING SECURITY. I love the thought process here too. “Say, there’s a foul ball. I think I will endeavor to retrieve that foul ball.”

There was a moderate crowd on this toasty Arizona afternoon. And, after the inning, I walked out to the bleachers down the right-field line and looked over the fence that stood between the main ballpark and the back fields where the A’s train. I asked a fan where the ball was that Tejada hit, and he pointed to the first main field, where a ball sat between home plate and the first-base bag. At the same time, a kid, maybe about 7, asked some other fans where the ball was; I heard him. And those fans pointed to four foul balls sitting in sort of no-man’s land between the backstop on the first field and the fence where I was. I knew this couldn’t be true, because the ball went over the fence barely foul, not 35 feet foul the way it would have had to if it was where the kid thought it was. And so I walked to the area outside the right-field stands where a guard and an A’s official were making sure no fans got down to the lower fields and the players’ parking lot. I asked if I might be able to get the Johnson-Tejada ball. The official said no problem, and I walked down, past the alerted guard, and onto the pristine field to get the ball.

This is where King could have ended his story and maybe not ended up looking like a complete fucking ponce. Hey, he had special credentials to go get the ball. All right. Sounds like a fun time. Oh, but he goes on, no doubt emboldened by the Zulu coffee bland running through his big fat veins.

Behind me, all of a sudden, I heard the running footsteps of the kid, who’d apparently snuck behind me and got past the guard, too, and he scrambled past the backstop to get the ball he was sure was the one Tejada hit.

Why, that NO GOOD LITTLE SHIT! A child, trying to obtain a keepsake to forever cherish? HE MUST BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS.

I picked up the True Ball,

Oooh, the True Ball! Only the True Ball will grant its owner the power of telekinesis!

and I told the kid: “I’m sure you’ve got the one Tejada hit,” just so he’d feel good about it.

And we stop here. Time to ask yourself what you do in this situation if you’re a well to do middle aged man. I think the average person would have simply handed the kid the ball he was looking for. This is because, and I know this might sound kooky, IT’S JUST A FUCKING BALL. But no. No, Peter has to lie to the kid so he can keep a foul ball that was hit DURING A FUCKING SPRING TRAINING GAME.

And when the guard saw him walking back up the ramp toward the stadium, he tried to stop the kid, but he was too quick and slipped back into the stadium. (Just like I’m sure I would have done if I was a kid and had an MVP foul ball.)

No way a young Peter King manages to elude that rent-a-cop. It’s a well known fact that rent-a-cops can outrun only four known things:

1. Palsy on a unicycle
2. Amputee tortoise
3. United States legal system
4. Peter King

I thanked Matt sincerely, told him the ball would be put to good use, and went back to watch a couple more innings before catching my plane.

Good use? Oh, I think I know the use. That’s right. BASEBALL POPCORN STRING ANAL BEADS. Now that’s what I call a seventh inning stretch!

Actually, I know why Peter really wanted to get that ball. He saw it hit and he said to himself, “You know what? I bet Paul Zimmerman has a stroke one of these days. Maybe three of them. I bet that ball could be his ticket back to full motor function!”

And now you know why I have the best job on earth.

And now you know why I hope you fall into a lake of toxic fill. Yes, Peter. I already know you have a merry existence, what with the trees and the talk. But you have to understand your audience, Peter. We’re Americans. You can do better than us, BUT YOU BETTER FUCKING SHUT YOUR TRAP ABOUT IT OR WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL YOU ARE IN A GRAVE AND COVERED WITH FRESH, DENSE SOIL. Did you really just brag about using your press access to get a collectible and then brag about duping some poor kid out of getting it? Really? What would Toone P. Wiggins say about this kind of behavior?

Ah, but it gets even BETTER. Because the following week, a reader castigated King for the incident. This would have given King ample opportunity to backtrack a bit. Ahhh, but I think you know how this will go…

Quite a few of you were offended by the story in last week’s column about me throwing my weight around to get a foul ball at a spring training game.

Indeed. The movie “The Natural” called him and said he was a fucking DICK.

Brian Howie of New York takes me to task for having “swindled some little kid into believing he had the True Ball, even though you have a job that will give you ample opportunities to get another one for yourself in the future. Karma, my friend, Karma.”

Mmmmm, rich karma mochiatto…

YOU’LL GET YOURS SOME DAY, KING. From Sean Griffin of Washington, D.C.: “Let me see if I’ve got this right. You, Peter King, fabulously wealthy sportswriter, used your prestige and fame to push your way into a closed-access area so you could get a foul ball. Then you lied to a 7-year-old kid so you could keep the foul ball. Then you brag in your web column about how you cheated this 7-year-old kid out of a foul ball, so all of your readers can share in the joy of your wonderful life. Gee, how heartwarming. It’s just too bad you couldn’t have published this piece closer to the holiday season — peace on earth, good will toward men, and screw you kid, I got my foul ball, so there.”

Again, plenty of opportunity here for King to say, “Shit, you’re right. That was dumb of me. SEAN, ALLOW ME TO TREAT YOU TO A MEAL AT THE CAPITAL GRILLE.” Instead…

Wow. The anger. The rage.


I introduced myself to a guard and asked if I could get a foul ball. I walked to get the foul ball. A 7-year-old boy passed through the same gate, without permission, as the guard called after him to come back.

ZOMG! THAT BOY DIDN’T HAVE CREDENTIALS! He could get into the unusable stadium crawlspace, and then THE FUCKING WORLD WOULD COLLAPSE UPON ITSELF. Is that the kind of society you want to live in, Sean Griffin?

I picked up the ball I thought was hit by Miguel Tejada. The kid picked up the ball he thought was hit by Tejada. I’m supposed to convince this kid who snuck through the gate that he doesn’t have the right ball and give him mine?


I had permission to get the ball I got. The 7-year-old boy stole his.

If you read this passage carefully, you can actually hear half of Peter King’s audience renouncing him. I HAD PERMISSION BECAUSE I’M A BIG SWINGING DICK. WHAT BUSINESS DOES THIS YOUNG SCALLYWAG HAVE IN THE VVVVIP AREA?! Why does this security area have no free coffee?

And I “cheated” him out of the ball?

Yes, you did. You said it yourself. REWIND!

I told the kid: “I’m sure you’ve got the one Tejada hit,” just so he’d feel good about it.

See how you talk about blatantly lying there?

I can see how you’d be offended that I tried to make the kid feel good by telling him he had the real ball, because I told what I believed to be a lie, even though it was not a malicious one. Maybe that’s wrong.

It is.

But is it right to be somewhere you shouldn’t be and, technically, to possess stolen property?

BUT HE WAS IN THE EXACT SAME FUCKING PLACE YOU WERE. You see people, when Peter King wants a foul ball, he has the power to simply summon it. But anyone else who is not of Peter King’s stature is STEALING AND SHOULD BE JAILED IN A VERY LARGE PIT. It’s tough, but fair. How else would our children learn about how hypocrisy works?

So there’s your foul ball story. It’s the quintessential Peter King story in that it is pointless, inane, and makes him look like a privileged ass. And today, I’m here to tell you that the poor miscreant boy from that story grew up to be none other than droppinadeuce.

Anyway, couple more tidbits from that column…

I think the most interesting moment of the league meetings, at least for me, came at about 6:50 last Tuesday morning. I was chatting up Troy Aikman in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore.

6:50? I hope they had the coffee out!

Aikman had a little bit of time, and he saw Parcells sitting alone, nursing a cup of coffee and lobby-sitting

THEY DID! THEY DID! Arizona Biltmore, you are a first class operation. Kudos to you.

as he is wont to do early in the morning at road hotels, particularly when his body clock says he should be up…

and making mixed drinks out of vodka and baby blood.

3b. I think if I’m Parcells I’m all over Brian Griese for little money June 2. Accurate guy, coachable guy.

You know what guy.

And if it means Chad Hutchinson has to sit for one or two years, or five, so be it.

Or even ten!

I really admire Sarah Hughes.

She always makes it a sunscreen summer!

I have a daughter her age. You know how hard it is to play sports, go to school, have a social life, study for the SAT and try to be good at all of the above?

Yes, because that’s what every teenager tries to do. And god damn, is being a teenager hard. All the loitering! All the not paying for anything! It’s agony.

This kid is a world-class athlete, and she has been admitted to Harvard! Do you have any idea how much work that takes?

ZOMG, it’s like she’s some sort of overachiever!

I laughed at all the stuff I read over the past few days about Hughes’ “slump,” and her sixth-place finish in the worlds in Washington, D.C., over the weekend. Let’s think about this for a moment. Hughes was the second- or third-best skater in America at the Salt Lake City Olympics when, in a clutch performance, she skated the greatest free skate of her life. She won the gold medal. Did that make her better than Michelle Kwan or Sasha Cohen? I don’t think so.

Actually, it did. That’s kind of the point of handing out medals.

And now she has all these other worthwhile things in her life and she doesn’t skate quite as wonderfully. So what? I applaud Hughes — no, I give her a personal standing ovation —

Whoa whoa. CLEAR OUT, EVERYONE. King is giving his first written standing O. Put enough nutmeg in your lasagna, Osteria Giotto, and perhaps you one day receive such a rare accolade.

for making her life a priority, not just her skating. This is a kid headed for a great, great life — not just a great, great life of ice skating.


Good for you, Sarah Hughes, for wanting to go to Harvard and one day makes lot of money, and for wanting to do shit besides ice skate. You truly are one of a kind.

Coffeenerdness: Actually, this is a coffee-ice-cream-nerdness, Larry King dot-dot-dot note of the week: I highly, highly recommend the coffee chip ice cream at Holsten’s in Bloomfield, N.J.

But what about Picco on Tremont Street? USLURPER!

Montclair (N.J.) High Softball Note of the Week:

Not a fucking chance. I hope you someone stole a foul ball from your kid’s game, you fat shit.

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