It appears Royals reliever Scott Downs is winning over a new legion of fans, even in Baltimore.
During batting practice before the first two games of the American League Championship Series, Downs and some other Royals players began playing catch with some kids in Orioles gear who were standing in the front rows above the left-field wall. On Sunday, the story of the batting practice games of catch went viral on the influential website Reddit.
“I don’t ever get on the Internet,” Downs said on Monday. “But I heard about it.”
The post, which was written by Reddit user 4tenpro and went up Sunday on a Royals-related Reddit site, soon made its way to Facebook and Twitter and started pinging around the Internet.
“I wanted to share something I saw during the Royals BP. My friends and I had went early, we watched you guys warm up. We stood in the left field seats and judged balls getting hit towards us —pretty fun to do if you’ve never done it. Anyways, there were a few KC players near the wall shagging fly balls, doing normal stuff. But then they started tossing a few balls to some of the little kids with gloves. They encouraged them to toss it back and thus a game of catch began between little kids (decked out in O’s gear) and KC players. This went on for a good twenty minutes. There was one in particular — Scott Downs — that was having a lot of fun with it.
“These little kids ate it up. Playing catch with MLB players, man, what a memory. They treated those kids so well, and none of them had any KC gear on. I turned to my buddy and said ‘you know, it’s really hard to hate this team.’ And that’s the truth. That was really cool, something I’ve never seen.
“Anyways, just had to share it. Good luck, and know that if we don’t pull off some miracles I’m rooting for KC in the WS.”
On Monday afternoon, Downs told The Star he heard about the viral post when he arrived to Kauffman Stadium earlier in the day.
Downs, 38, who isn’t on the roster for the ALCS, said he started playing catch with kids during batting practice last season, when he split time between the Braves and Angels.
“It’s just fun the reactions of some of the kids,” Downs said. “Because you give them a ball and you tell them to throw it back and they’re like: ‘What? We don’t want to throw it back.’
“But so then you start playing catch, and it’s fun. We’re all kids. At some point, we were all kids and we were all there.”
The Star’s Rustin Dodd contributed to this report.