A Look at the 'Amazing Ball Girl Catch' YouTube Video

High-Leaping Ball Girl Powered by Gatorade


 YouTube Screenshot

It turns out that amazing YouTube video of a ball girl kung-fu climbing the outfield wall to catch a high-flying foul was staged as a marketing gimmick for Gatorade. Is anyone surprised?

The Amazing Ball Girl Catch Video

With millions of views on YouTube, the video purports to cut into a broadcast of an AAA baseball game between Fresno and Tacoma. The teams would be the Fresno Grizzlies and the Tacoma Rainiers in real life.

The footage starts with three balls and strikes at the top of the seventh inning with one out, Fresno 2, Tacoma 1. Santos is in a jam. Brent Johnson is at bat, his first year in AAA baseball, with the stats showing he is a .257 average hitter with 1 home run and 23 runs batting in. He connects with the pitch to send a ball down the left field line. Jake Long is the left-fielder while Alphonso is the catcher.

As the ball heads towards the left field wall, clearly foul, the ball girl in a Grizzlies shirt jumps into the wall on the left side of the corner, propelling herself up and towards the corner, rebounds on the opposite wall and up, fully extending her body and mitt. She snags the ball just before the top of the wall in the corner, at more than double her apparent height. She tosses the ball to Jake Long. The catcher raises his mask, clearly astonished. The catch is replayed in slow motion. The announcer chides Long for not making any effort to catch the ball himself, as we see the ball girl happily sitting in her folding chair on the sideline. There is a bottle of Gatorade next to the chair.

An Element 79 Ad Agency Fabrication

The hoax was conceived by Chicago ad agency Element 79 and directed by Baker Smith. "It's certainly an amazing fabrication of an amazing play," writes Bob Garfield of Advertising Age. "The ball girl is a stuntwoman who was lifted by cables as she planted her feet against the wall, a sequence cut into the actual game footage and enhanced with a bit of CGI and a perfectly natural-sounding announcer track."

Baker was going for a Parkour-type move by the ball girl. He shot the footage right after the actual ball game in Fresno between the Grizzlies and the Rainiers. He used rigging and had the stunt woman pulled up by the wires tugged by two stuntmen. The ball itself was animation added to the footage. The lovely stunt woman was Phoenix Brown.

The footage was intended for an ad for Gatorade, but Element 79 lost that account before the ad was to be delivered. The Ball Girl commercial eventually aired during the 2008 All-Star Game. Meanwhile, the footage was posted to YouTube and became a viral sensation. Gatorade is not mentioned in the video, but they don't mind that a bottle is shown at the end.

Element 79's Swan Song for Gatorade - Advertising Age