It was the foul ball seen round the world.

A day after a candid father-daughter moment that likely left even the most hardened Phillies fans stifling awwws, the Laurel Springs family was a media hit.

In the bottom of the fifth during Tuesday night's 5-0 march over the Washington Nationals, Steve Monforto watched a Jayson Werth foul ball arcing toward him. A lifelong Phillies fan, he had never snagged a foul at a game.

"I was super-excited - here comes a foul ball," the 32-year-old said. "I was just thinking, 'Don't drop this, Steve. Don't drop this in front of everybody.' "

Reaching over a railing in the 300 level behind home plate at Citizens Bank Park, he made the grab and, after congratulations from other fans, turned to hand the ball to his 3-year-old daughter, Emily.

Emily promptly threw the ball back over the railing into the lower deck, gazing at her father as the crowd reacted in surprise.

In the clip, Monforto can be seen yelling "Noooo!" as Emily releases the ball, before resigning to an understanding smile as she stares up at him from beneath her pink Phillies hat. His wife, Kathleen, laughs in disbelief as she holds Emily's 15-month-old sister, Cecilia.

"She looked as if she thought she had done something wrong," Monforto said. Monforto quickly wrapped her in his arms and assured her it was fine, he said.

The clip almost instantly went viral - mlb.com had two YouTube postings taken down by last night, giving the clip a headline on its own Web site.

Yesterday, TV crews camped out outside the family's suburban front yard. The Monfortos starred on network and local news.

"I would have been happy with a little blurb on the evening news," Monforto said. "Today has been crazy."

Monforto is a project manager with Lockheed Martin in Moorestown, and his wife is a nurse at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Both are South Jersey natives.

Just before 5:30 p.m. yesterday, the family piled into a black SUV provided by Today. The Monfortos were headed to New York City, where producers had booked them a hotel for the night before an appearance this morning, where they'll be presented with a surprise gift from the Phillies.

The team also took note of the lost ball Tuesday night. After Emily threw it away, Mike Stiles, the club's senior vice president of operations, gave her another.

Emily's reflexes may have come from her time spent playing catch - or "Phillies," as she calls anything baseball-related - behind the family's home on Princeton Drive.

Yesterday, she acknowledged the incident matter-of-factly.

"I threw the ball back," she said. As her parents talked to reporters, she wriggled in her mother's arms and inspected her polka-dot socks.

Alan Mahler, 40, who lives up the street, ogled the media circus with his three sons.

"The whole 15-minute thing," he said with a laugh. "He's living it up."

As a test, he picked up his 3-year-old, Drew.

"Drew, if Daddy caught a ball at the Phillies game and handed it to you, what would you do?" he asked.

Resting his head on his father's shoulder, Drew responded without hesitation.

"Throw it," he said.

See the video via http://go.philly.com/foul EndText

Contact staff writer Matthew Spolar at 856-779-3829 or mspolar@phillynews.com.
Inquirer staff writer Peter Mucha contributed to this article.