Man Accused of "Stealing" Home Run Ball From Teenager Says He's Innocent

Army major is the man wanted by SFPD for "stealing" a home run ball.

By Chris Roberts
|  Friday, Aug 30, 2013  |  Updated 2:51 PM PDT
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Stephen Drew of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by Will Middlebrooks after Drew hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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The man who San Francisco police say "stole" a ball from a teenager at a San Francisco Giants game on Aug. 21 is a family man and military officer.

And he's no thief at all, he told the San Francisco Examiner.

Cletis B. Smith is a 51-year-old Army major and father from Alabama, according to the newspaper. And while San Francisco police say he's the man who injured a 16-year-old Canadian boy -- whose father told police that a pair of men had assaulted him in order to snatch away a home-run ball -- he says he's "dumbfounded and angry" to hear the allegations.

Smith, in San Francisco on business on Aug. 21, went to the Giants' game against the Red Sox on a "whim," he told the newspaper. He was along the concourse behind the right-field wall when he heard the "crack of the bat and commotion in the crowd."

It was a home-run ball. Smith says he was part of the "scramble for the ball" and ended up in a "scrum," the newspaper reported.

The Canadian boy in question says that he had possession of the ball and had it snatched away from him, which severely sprained his wrists, according to reports in Deadspin and elsewhere.

But Smith says the ball bounced around wildly, and he was "offered congratulations" after he ended up with it, the newspaper reported.

And the kid? He "jumped over my back to get the ball," Smith told The Examiner.

Since then, Smith became "disgusted" with the racist comments on Deadspin and elsewhere.

"I'm not a thug; I'm not 'East Bay trash,'" he told the newspaper. "I put my life on the line for almost 28 years defending this country and our Constitution."

In the meantime, San Francisco police are still treating the episode as a crime, according to reports.

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