Article Thumbnail

The Frenzied Manhunt for the Guy Who Hit Three Baseballs Into the Grand Canyon

After a man was filmed hitting home runs into the gorge, the internet reached a new level for fury, setting off a rapid quest to find him

Last week, the Grand Canyon National Park sparked a savage online manhunt by asking its Facebook followers to help identify a man seen smashing three baseballs from a tee into the enormous chasm.

It’s unclear whether the guy hit a grand slamyon into the Grand Canyon or if they were all fly balls. Regardless, Facebook combatants were set ablaze by his conduct. A lurker by the name of Corinne Lanphear called him “a perfect example of what’s wrong with humanity.” Another known as Bigthumb Tasha remarked, “Make sure he can’t go to any other national park while he’s alive.” And someone who goes by Norma Wall commented, “He should be blindfolded, hog-tied and placed into the back of a Chevy S-10.”

Worse yet, the legions of Reddit were equally unhappy with the man.

While unquestionably excessive, the internet’s rage isn’t entirely unwarranted. “Tossing, throwing or hitting objects from the rim of Grand Canyon National Park into the canyon is prohibited per 36 CFR 2.1 (a)(3), as this activity impacts the preservation of natural, cultural and archaeological resources,” Joëlle Baird, who works for the Grand Canyon National Park, tells me. “Furthermore, this activity creates an undue hazardous condition to potential hikers, backpackers and backcountry users below the rim.”

According to Baird, the guy sent his balls flying from the “South Rim” of Grand Canyon National Park, which is the park’s most visited area; therefore, the place where a soaring baseball is most likely to strike an unsuspecting passerby. If it had, a person could have been killed: As recently as 2019, a woman in the stands at Dodger Stadium died when she was struck by a foul ball, so you can only imagine the force behind a baseball plunging into the Grand Canyon.

It’s not unheard of for someone to succumb to similar circumstances. Climber Pete Absolon was killed in 2007 when a hiker dropped a hunk of granite into Wyoming’s Wind River Range, and photographer Victoria Schafer was killed in 2019 when two teenagers pushed a log from above where she was standing in Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park.

Despite the obvious dangers, some Facebook commenters supported the man’s behavior. One by the name of Brand Paul commented, “Looks like fun.” Another who goes by Eathen Bartenbach wrote, “Why are people mad? LMAO, who cares?” Meanwhile, a user known as Laurence Hall joked, “I actually caught this ball.”

Because the guy was wearing a T-shirt that says something along the lines of, “RIP Johnny,” many Facebookers theorized that he may have been performing some sort of last wish for a deceased companion. A commenter known as Jenniger Odell-Whitman typed, “Looks like he was doing something for someone who died. Give him a break!”

What the man’s actual intentions were, we may never know, but the Grand Canyon National Park people were able to nab him. “​The individual reached out to National Park Service law enforcement to identify himself,” says Baird. I reached out to him for comment as well — to no avail. 

The investigation is developing, but depending on the charges, the guy may have to pay over a grand for his antics. “In total, it could be a collateral fine of up to $360 for each offense,” Baird says. “Given the fact that he hit three baseballs over the rim, $360 times three equals $1,080 (maximum).”

Let’s just hope he didn’t clobber a bighorn sheep.