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Is ballpark security now using heavy handed tactics on fans who snare home run balls?

It used to be a fan’s ticket-buying right to keep a baseball hit into the stands.

It still is…but the day may be coming when big league greed trumps fan relations.

Case in point; what happened at a Tampa Bay Rays’ game this week. Jose Lopez of the Seattle Mariners belted his 25th home run of the season into the left field stands where it was snared by a Rays’ fan. He’s a guy who likes to catch home run balls and add them to his collection.

This time, though, he also caught some major flack.

Lopez apparently wanted the ball back. The fan refused the team’s request and believe it or not, that’s when stadium security, the Mariners’ broadcast crew–and a county sheriff’s deputy–all got involved, hoping to bully him into surrendering the ball.

The fan in question is the brother of BayNews 9 TV reporter Kelly Malafronte, who was at the game with him. He got to keep the ball, but Malafronte spelled out what is a somewhat frightening story in her blog.