Knock knock! A kid tries out an Astros sign-stealing joke on Dodgers’ Austin Barnes

Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes walks off after batting practice during a team workout two days before Game 1 of the 2017 World Series.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The memes that erupted from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal are last week’s news. The knock-knock joke is this week’s fun — so much fun that even a Dodgers player cracked up.

Robert Rodriguez, a sixth-grader from Oxnard, was playing in a travel ball tournament Saturday in Tustin. Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes happened to be there, as a friend of one of the coaches, and Robert said he was kind enough to take pictures and sign autographs for the kids.

Robert’s uncle had texted what the 12-year-old thought was a pretty good knock-knock joke. Barnes had just happened to park next to the truck driven by Robert’s father. So, as his family was packing up at the ballpark, Robert could not help but try the joke on Barnes.

“I just thought of the joke because he was the Dodgers catcher in the 2017 World Series,” Robert told The Times on Monday night. “I wasn’t sure if he was going to like my joke.”


The Astros beat the Dodgers in that 2017 World Series. The league is investigating whether the Astros improperly deployed technology in order to steal signs that year, and in the two years since.

Mike Fiers, who pitched for Houston in 2017, told the Athletic the Astros had stolen signs that season using a television monitor behind the dugout, which displayed a video feed from a camera in center field. If an offspeed pitch was anticipated, team staffers would bang loudly on a trash can.

Robert: “Knock knock.”

Barnes: “Who’s there?”

Robert: “Change up.”

Barnes: “Change up who?”

Robert: “Two knocks is a change up.”

Barnes broke into a wide grin.

“Yeah, huh?!” he said, and he exchanged fist bumps with Robert.

Robert’s father, Bobby, had captured the moment and posted it on Instagram. Robert was delighted to meet Barnes, but he said he had one small regret.

“I think the joke would have been funnier,” Robert said, “if I had told it to an Astros player.”