A video clip from 2011 seemingly showed the Tampa Bay Rays’ third baseman Evan Longoria making an amazing, impromptu bare-handed catch of a batting practice ball while being interviewed on the field:
In fact, this video was a staged/manufactured one created for Gillette (whose logo is displayed on either side of Longoria’s head), as described in contemporaneous news accounts:
You may have seen the video by now — Tampa Bay Rays star Evan Longoria making a too-good-to-be-true, bare-handed catch to save a reporter from getting clocked in the head.
Longoria spent several hours in Bradenton one night in the middle of spring training filming a Gillette commercial with ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, then shot the viral video in just a few minutes, said Trevor Gooby, the Pirates’ director of Florida operations. Pirates employees had no idea what the commercial would be like.
Evan Longoria was talking with a female TV reporter to the foul side of first base during batting practice when he reached up at the last second and snared a slicing line drive before it struck the reporter’s head.
“Unbelievable, huh?” Longoria said. “It’s funny when you talk about things going viral; it really does once it gets on things like Twitter and YouTube. It goes from a small snowball to an avalanche quickly.”
The commercial for Gillette was shot at McKechnie Field in Bradenton one night near the end of spring training.
Longoria had played that afternoon for the Rays. Gillette supplied a car that drove him to Bradenton. He reached McKechnie at 3:30 p.m., and shooting for a Gillette Fusion commercial began at 4 p.m.
Longoria said they asked him if he would do that clip at the end, and he agreed to if there was time.
It was near 10 p.m. when the shooting stopped for the commercial. He was told it would only take a minute or two. It was filmed using nothing but the stadium’s lights.
The Rays are taking batting practice in the clip, though there is no batting cage at home plate, no coaches hitting fungos, no music blaring over the stadium’s PA system, and the reporter is way too close to the field.
Longoria spots the ball out of the corner of his eye and grabs it with his right hand before it strikes the reporter. He shakes his right hand and flips the ball on the field and says, “Keep it on the field.”
Longoria said he’s amazed at the attention it has received.
“I shot the actual Gillette commercial for like six or seven hours that day and I’ve heard a few things about that. But that footage of me catching the ball there literally took two minutes to shoot on a handheld camera,” he said. “It’s crazy. That’s how people become famous on YouTube. You put up a video that goes viral and before you know it, over a million people have seen it.”
If you look closely you’ll see “Gillette” signs across the roof’s facade — those were computer graphics, Gooby said.
Longoria has since left the Rays and is now with the San Francisco Giants.