During his 19 seasons in the major leagues, royals pitcher Zack Greinke has built 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 instead of signing it for Sunday’s game, many fans laughed it off as just another quirky pitcher story.
That fan, Lucas Waterworth, said in a telephone interview that he is trying to get an autograph from every Royals player and has not yet had Greinke signed.
Before Sunday’s game against the A’s, Waterworth sat by the Royals dugout, hoping to sign debutant Bobby Witt Jr. when Greinke stepped onto the field.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, Zack, I’m a huge fan. Any chance you could please come over and sign autographs?’ So Zack comes over and I’m so happy,” Waterworth said. “I’m like, ‘Zack, you’re amazing. Thanks for everything.’ And apparently he didn’t like that. †
“Zack grabbed the ball and he looked right at me. And he stared at me for about 5 seconds. And he threw the ball. And I was like, ‘Wow, that was awesome. Hey, Zak. I just want to know why you did that Why would you do such a thing? And he said he said, “For my amusement.” and I was just really shocked.”
Waterworth, a 16-year-old student at Wellington-Napoleon High School, posted about the interaction on Facebook. He placed the message in such a way that only a select few 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’s more to it.
The team acknowledges that Greinke threw the ball over the net and into the stands, but says he didn’t just do it for his own pleasure. Greinke saw Waterworth push younger fans out of the way to get the ball, the Royals said.
Waterworth denies that, saying he has heard from fans at the match who confirm he did not push any children.
But the Royals say others saw Waterworth pushing young children aside to go to Greinke.
The Royals and Waterworth agree on one thing: Greinke continued to sign autographs for young fans after she threw the ball into the stands.
Waterworth said a messenger told him to speak to Royals Guest Services, and the staff there apologized.
But he’s still hoping to get that Greinke signature on a baseball. The ball that Greinke threw into the stands, he never got back.
“It’s definitely the craziest thing that’s happened to me at a Royals or Chiefs game or any sporting event,” said Waterworth.