The Chances of Ferris Bueller Catching That Foul Ball on His Day Off
Photo by Paramount/Getty Images. Ferris Bueller
June 5, 1985. You might not have known this, but that’s the actual date of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
How do we know this? Because the foul ball that Ferris catches at Wrigley Field is a highlight from a game between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves on that day.
In the film, Ed Rooney is told at the time that the game is scoreless. However, the foul ball is actually from an at-bat between Lee Smith and Claudell Washington in the 11th inning of the game the Braves won, 4-2.
To have some fun, we sat down with the guy who has caught more baseballs than any fan in the history of the game, Zack Hample, to discuss Ferris’ real chances of catching a foul ball in his seat at Wrigley that day.
In the movie, Ferris (Matthew Broderick) is sitting with friends Cameron (Alan Ruck) and Sloane, played by Mia Sara.
Darren Rovell: What do you think of Ferris’ seat at Wrigley that day in terms of his chance of actually catching a foul ball?
Zack Hample: I mean, Wrigley is fairly symmetrical down the lines, so the odds of getting a baseball on either side of the field is similar. And then it just depends on the amount of righties and lefties in the lineup.
So let’s take the left field foul line where he is sitting. It’s a decent spot because both lefties and righties can hit balls there. That said, it’s a not a high-probability area. It’s more of a possibility to get a ball there rather than a likelihood.
DR: How many games do you think it would take Ferris sitting in that seat to catch one?
ZH: I would say 10-to-15 games, depending on crowd size. If it was packed like usual it would be quite challenging. But with, say 25 percent capacity, I think I’d get a ball there in three-to-five games. If you look at the video, you’ll see when Ferris reaches up you can see the side of a seat, perhaps one or two rows behind him. That looks like it’s across from the staircase, and Cameron seems to be sitting between Ferris and the stairs, so Cameron has the prime seat.
DR: Because Cameron can move.
ZH: Exactly. Sitting on the stairs would shave a number of games off the estimate to get a baseball there. Being trapped in the second seat from the stairs could make it nearly impossible. But either way, poor Ferris was trapped there and got very luck that the ball came right to him. So if I had to stay in that exact seat without access to the stairs, I think it would take me 50 games to catch a foul ball.
DR: And you’re skilled. So it’s not likely that the exact scenario of Ferris catching that ball in that seat happens.
ZH: You can, of course, sit there for an entire season and not get one. Or you could get lucky and get a few. But it would be highly unlikely to get anything without being able to move.
DR: Where do you sit in Wrigley if you want the best chance of a foul ball?
ZH: The lower portion of the upper deck has the most foul ball action, shaded slightly to the first and third base sides of home plate. If you’re sitting above the walkway in the upper deck, very few balls reach you, so try to be in the first six-to-eight rows. Sit beside the stairs if possible, and if you have an empty row or even a small cluster of empty seats on either side, that will greatly help.
DR: How many balls have you caught in Wrigley?
ZH: I’ve gotten 120 balls in 17 games there, including two foul balls during games. I got 24 in day a few years ago (during batting practice).