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Cleveland Fan Catches Four Foul Balls

Cleveland Fan Catches Four Foul Balls

Welcome to all ESPN viewers and new Twitter followers!

It was quite a day yesterday for Cleveland fan Greg Van Niel as he pulled down four foul balls during the game. By the fourth he already had so many he threw it into the crowd!


(Photo via Twitter @Indians)

Here is the article on ESPN.


IdealSeat was contacted by ESPN Stats and Information last night for an estimate of the chances of 4 fouls at one game. Here is our response:

“Down to the odds. In any given game 100 balls are batted and 30 enter the stands. At the average game there are 30,000 fans in attendance so the odds of bringing home a game ball are 1 in 1000.

There are likely locations in the stadium where the odds are higher (this is what the IdealSeat app is collecting info on so we can create Moneyball for fans!) but for simplicity sake let’s go with 1:1000.

Then each successive balll would be multiplied by 1:1000 or x=1:10^3×10^3×10^3×10^3 or 1:10^12.

Or one in a trillion.”

So that’s how we calculated the odds. As good statisticians we then groundtruthed this by checking back to last year. In 2012, two fans caught two balls in the same game (see our top ten fan plays of 2012). So with 80,000,000 tickets sold last year that would make the chances of catching two balls about 1:40,000,000. So we now that we have to be well beyond that number into the billions.

There is certainly more precise analysis that can be done on this and we hope a PHD in mathematics will take it on. For now 1:1,000,000,000,000 is our best estimate.

IdealSeat is all about increasing the odds for baseball fans. We are actively recording data in Seattle and New York to find those seats with better odds. They are out there and we can crowdsource the data to locate the best seats for foul balls, weather, and concessions.

Congrats to Greg Van Niel for finding the IdealSeat!

  • Matt
    Posted at 16:24h, 15 July Reply

    You mean:

    For now 1:1,000,000,000,000 is our best estimate.

  • joelbanslaben
    Posted at 17:01h, 18 July Reply

    Thanks Matt, made the edit!

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