Phillies star Bryce Harper was ejected early in Thursday's game against the Pirates. But his ejection quickly turned great for one young fan. Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports Sep 28, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper (3) throws his helmet into the stands after being ejected for arguing a strike call with umpire Angel Hernandez during the third inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In much the same way that nobody who jumps into a pool can be surprised when they get wait, nobody can be really surprised by Ángel Hernández badly blowing a call in a game he’s umpiring. But one of his bad calls on Thursday at least had a happy ending.

The call came in the third inning of Thursday’s game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies. Pittsburgh pitcher, Luis Ortiz, delivered a 3-2 pitch to Bryce Harper that was low and inside. Harper initially began to offer at the pitch but clearly checked his swing. While the checked swing was appealed, it didn’t seem necessary, as Harper was not close to going around.

Only, Hernández was the third base umpire. And given that Harper is left-handed, the checked swing appeal went to Hernández, who brutally butchered the call.

Harper was frustrated, both during and after the game. And it didn’t take long for Hernández to eject the two-time National League MVP. As Harper was walking off of the field, he tossed his helmet into the crowd.

And that’s where the story changes.

Hayden Dorfman, a 10-year-old fan who was sitting behind Philadelphia’s first base dugout at Citizens Bank Park, caught the souvenir from Harper, who Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer said is Dorfman’s player. And any sadness that might have been felt by Dorfman after seeing his favorite player ejected was quickly mitigated by not only getting his helmet, but Harper insisting upon autographing it.

Security guards found Dorfman and told him the good news. Not long after, the helmet was returned to Dorfman with Harper’s signature on it.

Baseball fans had a lot to say about the frustrating-turned-wholesome moment.

Harper later said that he “was happy to do that for him, and sign that for him,” though he did clarify “I wish I could have hit a homer or done something different in the game, to make his night.

We’d call this a pretty good consolation prize.

[Alex Coffey on Twitter]

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