Josh Scott told his father Friday that he would throw the baseball back if he caught a home run by a Braves player. That’s a deal, his father James said.
The Scotts — Philadelphia fans living in North Carolina — drove four hours to Atlanta for Josh’s first game. The father and son sat in the outfield, wore Phillies gear, brought a glove, and knew what to do if they caught a Braves’ homer.
They are “stone-cold crazy” Philly fans, James Scott said, so they had little interest in keeping a Braves home run ball.
And then Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman barreled a home run their way in the eighth inning, but the baseball bounced out of Josh’s glove. He tried catching it with one hand while his other hand held onto a rail so he wouldn’t fall into the Atlanta bullpen.
Instead, that’s where the baseball landed. A Braves player retrieved it, tossed it above, and Josh dropped it again. The player tried once more. Josh had the ball, but he didn’t throw it back.
“Him dropping it caused him to reconsider,” James Scott said.
Josh Scott, instead of launching the ball onto the field, found a young Braves fan wearing a Freeman jersey and handed him the baseball. The TV broadcast captured the whole sequence — Josh’s two drops, his catch, and him giving the ball away — and the moment soon went viral.
Two nights later, Braves fans were chastised for throwing trash on the field in response to a controversial call. But Friday, it was a 14-year-old wearing a Phillies hat who was being praised in Atlanta for what his father said is simply his “normal and natural rhythm.”
“It’s been insane for me. I really wasn’t expecting all this,” said Josh, who watched his moment spread on social media. “That’s just how our family rolls. I was just trying to brighten someone’s day and it went viral. I was like ‘Wow.’ All I was doing was giving him a ball.”
James Scott was born in Hahnemann Hospital, grew up in Mount Airy, and graduated from Willingboro High School before moving his family to Charlotte in 2008. Scott and his wife, Tara, are pastors and the founders of Freedom Within Walls, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting childhood poverty in the Carolinas.
Scott not only raised his son to be a four-for-four Philly fan, but had him serve meals and bag lunches for the children supported by the family’s organization. So that’s why James Scott said he wasn’t taken aback when his son decided against throwing the baseball back.
“Organically, this is who this kid is. He gives. He serves his community,” James Scott said. “It didn’t surprise me. But I was proud that the country was able to see who he really is. It was great for us.”
The Scotts drove back to Charlotte after Friday’s loss to the Braves as the moment continued to buzz online. The fans behind them told them they were on TV, which had Josh Scott worried that everyone would see him drop the baseball.
Instead, the moment went viral because of what Josh did after he caught it. The Braves invited them back to Atlanta for Sunday’s game and they were given seats behind the Phillies’ dugout. Freeman met them during batting practice and presented Josh a baseball signed by himself and Bryce Harper.
Rhys Hoskins threw Josh a ball after the seventh inning and as the Phillies finished a wild 7-6 win, J.T. Realmuto motioned to Josh and told him he had something for him. Another ball, the Scotts assumed.
“That dude came out of the dugout with his personal bat that he used that night and signed it,” James Scott said. “Met Josh at the fence. Josh dapped him up. I was so floored. That was big. J.T. went above and beyond.”
The father and son drove home through the night to Charlotte, making the four-hour trek for the fourth time in three days. It was an exhausting weekend as Josh Scott went viral, met some of baseball’s biggest stars, and watched his favorite team win on the road.
And it all happened because he changed his plan about what to do with the baseball.
“You doing anything to brighten someone’s day can change a person’s mindset,” Josh Scott said. “You can always help other people. Small acts of kindness can mean a lot.”