Fan who nearly went over railing when Reds played Braves alive and thriving

Former Reds manager Ray Knight, seen here looking on from the dugout in Wrigley Field during a 1996 game against the Cubs, was playing third base for the Reds in 1981 when a fan nearly fell over a railing in old Riverfront Stadium. He said, "I remember it clearly  . . . I saw him hanging up there, but I never knew how he actually grabbed the dang rail, the way it’s built.”
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Former Reds manager Ray Knight, seen here looking on from the dugout in Wrigley Field during a 1996 game against the Cubs, was playing third base for the Reds in 1981 when a fan nearly fell over a railing in old Riverfront Stadium. He said, "I remember it clearly  . . . I saw him hanging up there, but I never knew how he actually grabbed the dang rail, the way it’s built.”

It’s been more than 36 years since Randy Kobman went flying in pursuit of a foul ball as the Reds and Braves faced off in Cincinnati’s old Riverfront Stadium, but he hasn’t been forgotten nor has the spectacle slipped his mind.

When Kobman, then a teenager, flopped over a railing in Riverfront on April 22, 1981 and was left hanging on for life, former Braves announcer Pete Van Wieren remarked on the air, “Oh my!”

Broadcast partner Skip Caray said, "He'd be a very dead person, I think."

Nope, Kobman’s still in Ohio, where Deadspin writer Dave McKenna caught up with him.

From the fascinating story, “He is alive and 54 years old and has a wife and two kids in graduate school and runs a shipping business in the Cincinnati area, where he still resides.”

Kobman’s memory remains sharp.

“I got the ball! But I forgot where I was,” he told Deadspin. “And that railing hit my legs right around the knees and flipped me, and all of a sudden I’m over the rail. At that point, I know something’s going to happen, and it won’t be good. I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to fall.’ ”

Which he did.

But he hung on . . . to something.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I’ve slowed it down, looked frame by frame, and I still have no idea how I grabbed on. I hit that wall and I’m banging around like a Volvo crash dummy, but I didn’t fall.”

With the help of surrounding fans, he climbed back up and over the railing.

This is a long, riveting read about almost happened, and Kobman still marvels from time to time about his fate.

“At Riverfront, I didn’t make a choice to take a risk. I wasn’t like a guy who chooses to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel,” he said. “I didn’t choose to go over that railing. It just happened, and I was very fortunate. Nobody knows why.”