Joey Votto does not mind being perceived as a villain by opposing fans, but he clearly would prefer to stay in the good graces of those supporting his Reds. So after showing up a Cincinnati fan who interfered with a foul ball Tuesday night, the veteran first baseman made sure to make amends.
In the seventh inning of a game against the Cardinals, St. Louis’s Steve Piscotty hit a ball that flew barely into the stands. Votto had a play on it, but a fan also reached for the souvenir, and it fell to the ground, keeping Piscotty’s at-bat alive.
That caused Votto to grab the fan’s Reds shirt, then release it in disgust, in order to highlight the team’s logo and the fact that the man should have been more helpful to his hometown club.
Later in the game, though, Votto returned to the stands to apologize to the fan. He also gave the man an autographed ball, one with the inscription, “Thanks for being so understanding when I acted out of character.”
Some would point out, however, that the shirt-grab was very much in character for Votto, at least lately. This season has seen him troll Phillies and Nationals fans by pretending that he would throw them foul balls, and the capper came last week, when a youngster at San Francisco’s AT&T Park asked for Votto’s batting gloves. “You’re sitting in the front row, you’re elite,” he replied. “This isn’t a ‘Make A Wish’ situation.”
Tuesday’s incident was different, though, in that it involved a Reds fan. After the game, he offered regrets for “bullying” the man.
“I made a big mistake by crossing the fan-field, or the stands-field boundaries,” Votto said (via MLB.com). “I ended up semi-going into the stands to make a catch and I misplayed it and I took my frustration out on a fan. First of all, I should’ve made the catch regardless, he stayed in the stands, I crossed the boundaries and touched his shirt. I felt really bad about it afterwards.
“Randy is his name, I went up and saw him afterwards,” Votto continued. “He was generous enough to apologize at the time and afterwards. In retrospect, he’s not the one that should be apologizing, he’s just trying to catch a ball and here I am bullying him. In that instance, I don’t feel a responsibility to be a, what’s the word, some sort of example or anything like that, but I do feel like to treat my fellow man with respect and I felt like I was in the wrong completely there so I was certainly regretful. He was forgiving and I would like to think all is good, and the guy ended up striking out, anyway, so it was a zero.”
Votto’s act of contrition created some good karma in the bottom of the ninth inning. With his Reds trailing, 5-4, he slapped a single — one of four hits on the night that extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games — and came home on a three-run homer by Scott Schebler that gave Cincinnati a 7-5 win.