2009-09-24 / Local & State

Little Girl's Foul Toss Makes Dad A Celebrity

By Rob Maaddi AP SPORTS WRITER

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Dad simply wanted a souvenir - not a national television appearance.

Steve Monforto won over many hearts after his 3-year-old daughter tossed a foul ball he caught at a Phillies game back onto the field. Stunned by his toddler's toss, all Dad could do was hug her.

On Thursday, his entire family traveled from their home in Laurel Springs, N.J., to appear on the "Today'' show.

Monforto said he was surprised at the flurry of attention their day at the ballpark has attracted.

"At the time I was just excited to give it to her,'' said Monforto, a season-ticket holder who shares tickets to games with friends.

He said he didn't consider the possibility that little Emily might toss his treasure.

"I've been waiting so long to catch a foul ball, and over the edge it goes,'' he said with a laugh.

Monforto, 32, and his daughter still went home with a baseball Tuesday night after the Phillies' 5-0 win over the Nationals, brought to them in the stands by Phillies executive Mike Stiles.

On the "Today'' show, they got another ball - this one signed by outfielder Jayson Werth, who hit the foul ball in the fifth inning that made the Monforto family famous.

The family of four also received personalized Phillies jerseys.

Monforto made a great grab, catching his first foul ball after years of going to Phillies games. He fist-bumped his buddies, high-fived his daughter and handed her the prize.

Then came the toss and the hug.

"I didn't want her to think she did anything wrong,'' Monforto said on WIP-AM radio Wednesday.

Philly crowds are known for being a tough bunch, but everyone at Citizens Bank Park cheered - first his catch, then his cuddle.

"This was the true reflection of what Philly fans are like,'' said Bonnie Clark, the team's vice president of communications.

Cameras captured the scene of Monforto reaching over the railing and snagging Werth's foul. The video was displayed at the top of the Yahoo! Web page and made the NBC national news.

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