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'Mai Tai Guy' defends himself after swiping home run ball from kids: 'You know the rules here'

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO -- The first thing you need to know about "Mai Tai Guy" is why he calls himself Mai Tai Guy.

"When I first started coming out here when I was 21, the beers were a buck cheaper than the Mai Tais," Mai Tai Guy said. "The beer is only 5% (alcohol). The Mai Tai is like 12%. So for a buck more, let's get after it, you know?"

Mai Tai Guy's real name is Christopher Sorley, and he's a handyman from Chicago who does roofing, siding, insulation and other odd jobs. He likes to keep his hours flexible so he can hang out in Wrigley Field's left-field bleachers, where he has been going for 20-25 years and which is where he became the latest Cubs fan to become a viral sensation.

Late Tuesday night, Sorley was accused of swiping Kyle Schwarber's walk-off home run against the Reds from two young boys who were reaching into the basket for the game-winning ball. Wearing one of his Cubs jerseys with his "Mai Tai Guy" nickname on the back, Sorley quickly became a trending topic on Twitter and the subject of ridicule on sports talk radio.

Sorley defended himself Wednesday, saying it's all a matter of "perception" by fans.

"All the kids are in the front row because we let them go there," Sorley said. "You know what I'm saying? (Schwarber's homer) is a gamer. You know the rules here. The Cubs can't be responsible for the action of fans when trying to procure a home run or a foul ball. A walk-off home run? It's kind of anyone's game. I feel bad for the kids, but it looked a lot worse than it really was."

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Sorley denied he shoved either of the two boys and said he had a "chuckle" over the incident with the boys' father Wednesday morning in the left-field bleachers. He said after he got the ball from the basket and got a hug from a friend, he went back down to the front row.

"I said, 'Hey, guys, I'm really sorry,' " he said. "They all knew (the rules). They had gotten their balls (in batting practice). I'm sure they would've been happy to get one more. Who wouldn't? You know what I'm saying? ... They knew what was going on, and they're going to remember that day for the rest of their life, however they want to remember."

The ensuing debate over home run ball etiquette was one-sided, with most agreeing Mai Tai Guy was a reprehensible human being for not giving it to one of the kids.

Veteran ballhawk Moe Mullins, however, said Mai Tai Guy was being unfairly ridiculed for doing what any fan would do in the same situation.

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