Over his 19 seasons in the big leagues, Royals pitcher Zack Greinke has gained a reputation as someone who marches to the beat of his own drum.
So when a story was shared about Greinke throwing a teenage fan’s baseball into the stands rather than signing it before Sunday’s game, many fans laughed it off as just another quirky story about the pitcher.
That fan, Lucas Waterworth, said in a phone interview that he tries to get an autograph from every Royals player and had not gotten Greinke to sign yet.
Before Sunday’s game against the A’s, Waterworth was sitting near the Royals’ dugout hoping to get rookie shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.’s autograph when Greinke stepped on the field.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, Zack, I’m a big fan. Is there any chance you can please come over and sign some autographs?’ So Zack walks over and I’m so happy,” Waterworth said. “I’m like, ‘Zack, you’re amazing. Thank you for everything.’ And apparently he did not like that. …
“Zack took the ball and he looked right up at me. And he stared at me for about 5 seconds. And he threw the ball. And I was like, ‘Wow, that was crazy. Hey, Zack. I just want to know why did you do that? Why would you do such a thing? And he said he said, ‘For my amusement.’ and I was just really shocked.”
Waterworth, 16-year-old student at Wellington-Napoleon High School, posted about the interaction on Facebook. He set the post so only a select number of people could see it, but some details of the story nevertheless made their way to wider distribution on Twitter.
That account quickly went viral, but the Royals say there is more to the story.
The team acknowledges Greinke threw the ball over the netting and into the stands but says he wasn’t simply doing it for his own amusement. Greinke saw Waterworth push younger fans out of the way to get the ball, the Royals said.
Waterworth denies that and said he has heard from fans at the game who attest that he didn’t push any kids.
But the Royals say others witnessed Waterworth pushing aside young children to get to Greinke.
One thing the Royals and Waterworth agree on: Greinke continued to sign more autographs for young fans after tossing the ball into the stands.
Waterworth said an usher told him to talk with Royals Guest Services, and that staffers there apologized.
But he’s still hoping to get that Greinke autograph on a baseball. He never got back the ball that Greinke threw in the stands.
“It’s definitely the craziest thing that has happened to me at a Royals or Chiefs game or any sporting event,” Waterworth said.