ballcatchers.com

A home run is perfect.
A home run is a gift.
A home run is history.
And sometimes history picks you.
David Freese
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Busch Stadium (St. Louis)
2011 World Series, Game 6: won the game and evened the World Series at 3-3
Who Caught the Ball?
David Huyette
39, radiologist
Maryville, Illinois
What's the Story?
Huyette and his friend Jeremy Reiland had already played the scenario through their minds several times. The pair were sitting in a pair of outfield bleacher tickets they had purchased on StubHub and knew that each batter in the St. Louis Cardinals' wild 10-9 win over Texas Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series could be the one to make history. Every time someone came up to bat, Busch Stadium's large batter's eye to the right of their seats provided a constant reminder that a valuable piece of Cardinals' lore could land just a few feet away.

"Every time there was a chance there could be a walkoff home run, Jeremy reminded me that there was a grassy knoll right next to us," said Huyette. "We're out there and I just assumed the position to get ready each time. At one point Albert (Pujols) had the chance to win the game and we thought that was going to be the time that it happened. But it didn't, he was intentionally walked.

"Then Freese came up in the 11th and I heard the crack of the bat and everybody cheered and it was kind of in slow motion. I jumped over the fence and (the ball) kind of landed right there. I just tumbled around it, expecting to getting pummeled and beaten to death."

Huyette scurried onto the grass, retrieved the ball, and stuffed it down his pants before celebrating.

Mike Reis, an off-duty St. Louis police officer working ballpark security, later approached the pair and said that Freese or the Hall of Fame might be interested in the baseball. Reis said that Huyette was free to make his own decision, but the fan immediately agreed and was taken to a spot outside the Cardinals clubhouse where he offered the ball to Freese. A quick negotiation ensued and Huyette agreed to trade the ball for a signed bat from Freese as well as a ball signed by the entire Cardinals team.

"Maybe if I had been wanting for money, it'd be different," Huyette said. "But I make a good living. I wasn't going to hold the country hostage for the ball."
Jim Thome
Monday, August 15, 2011
Comerica Park (Detroit)
600th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
?
What's the Story?
Thome sent a towering fly to left field. It landed just beyond the fence and was recovered by stadium officials.
Derek Jeter
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Yankee Stadium (New York)
3000th career hit
Who Caught the Ball?
Christian Lopez
23, cell phone salesman
Highland Mills, New York
What's the Story?
Lopez got his $65 tickets a few days before the game as a birthday present from his girlfriend, Tara Johnson. Lopez was sitting with Johnson, his father, Raul, and two family friends in the first row of Section 236 in left field, hoping to see history. According to Johnson, Lopez actually thought he might be part of it.

"My boyfriend said, 'If the ball comes over here, I'm going to get it,'" Johnson said. "So when it was hit, I said, 'Christian, I think it's really coming here.'"

The ball hit Raul's palm and bounced into the hands of his son, Christian. "My dad missed it, because he has awful hands," Lopez said. "The next thing I know, I just saw the ball roll in front of me and I jumped on it. It was instinct."

His father draped himself across his son's back while others in the section tried to pry away the prized possession. "When I saw the ball went to him, I covered him," Raul said. "I knew it would be crazy, because I saw the Barry Bonds thing. You know it's going to be crazy because it's history."

Yankees officials hustled him to the Steinbrenner family luxury box. "Security was right there in a second," Lopez said. "They were dragging me up the stairs, and I'm a large man to drag up stairs. They were saying, 'Come with us.' The whole reason for me to come to the game was for history. And to actually be part of it now, it's crazy. It was surreal."

Lopez did not want anything for the ball. The Yankees gave him season tickets for the rest of the 2011 regular season and playoffs.

According to The New York Times, the total value of the seats could exceed $120,000. The IRS could consider that to be taxable income, for which Lopez would owe as much as $14,000 in taxes.
Alex Rodriguez
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Yankee Stadium (New York)
600th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
Frankie Babilonia
23, New York Yankees security guard
What's the Story?
According to the web site SeatGeek, working in conjunction with Hit Tracker, the most likely spot for Rodriguez to deposit his 600th career home run was into the seats, five rows above the left edge of the left-field scoreboard.

Babilonia, in his second season as an employee of the New York Yankees, was filling in for a colleague who was on break when Rodriguez's milestone blast sailed over the center field wall. The ball landed in protective netting above Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, preventing a public scrum for the souvenir. Babilonia said he stumbled several times while scrambling to retrieve the ball and then turned it over to Yankee officials, per team policy.

"I'm very blessed that Frankie was so generous," Rodriguez, 35, said in a post-game interview before posing for pictures with Babilonia. "I was lucky to hit it to center field to have one of our guys get it."

Babilonia called the moment a "lifetime experience" and said he never considered trying to pocket the ball. "It's something I'll never forget, but I like doing my job," Babilonia told reporters outside the main interview room at Yankee Stadium. "I was pretty lucky."

Babilonia said he plans to frame the bat he received from Rodriguez and hang it on his wall at home.
Daniel Nava
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Fenway Park (Boston)
4th player in history to hit a grand slam in his 1st major league at-bat (this one on the first pitch)
Who Caught the Ball?
Manny Delcarmen
28, Boston Red Sox player
What's the Story?
Sitting in the Red Sox bullpen just beyond the right-center field wall, Delcarmen leaped into the air to catch the ball. He returned it to Nava.
Gary Sheffield
Friday, April 17, 2009
Citi Field (New York)
500th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
Chris Matcovich
22, college student
Suffern, New York
What's the Story?
Matcovitch recounts, "I stood by the railing near section 132 in left field when Gary Sheffield stepped to the plate. ... It was such a blast that at first I lost the ball due to the stands above, but then as it descended I was shocked as it came towards me. It first hit off a guy's hand in the last row of seats and then floated gently into my hands."

"I was thinking, 'Just don't drop it,'" Matcovich said. "That's basically what went through my mind. If I dropped it, I would have been so disappointed in myself for the rest of my life."

"We walked around the stadium and found security to tell them that I had the ball in my pocket. From there my friends and I were escorted to the security office, where Major League Baseball officials authenticated the ball."

Mets teammates braced Sheffield for what might be a costly purchase. "Couple guys on the team kept saying, 'It's going to cost you about $100,000 to get that ball back. I was like, 'I don't think my wife's going to let me.'"

Matcovich wanted to simply return the ball to Sheffield. "I wanted nothing but to just give it back to Gary," Matcovich said. "It was his ball. It's not mine."

"That was special of him to do that," Sheffield said. "He didn't have to do that. But I'm appreciative that he did." Sheffield went a step further and signed jerseys for Matcovich and his friends, with plans to also give the group some signed bats.

Matcovich was invited back to throw out the first pitch and watch batting practice from the field.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Dolphin Stadium (Miami)
600th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
Joe Scherer
51, hospital worker
What's the Story?
Scherer, a season ticket holder, wore a giveaway Sergio Mitre jersey. He "had a hunch" Griffey would pull one to right field.

"As soon as the ball was hit, I got a good read on it and had to move only about five empty seats to my left. I reached up with my left arm and made a clean catch in my glove. The ball went directly from Griffey's bat to my glove. I am the only fan who touched the ball, and I never lost possession of it." Scherer's catch can be clearly seen in the video footage.

Scherer had another ball with him from batting practice and pointed to it underneath one of the seats, sparking a scrum between people duped into believing that was the real No. 600. With the real ball in hand, he quietly passed out of the mob scene.

Scherer refused to identify himself and refused to speak to the media. He was escorted to the ground floor of Dolphin Stadium and put the ball in one of the executive offices. Reds media relations director Rob Butcher and Reds clubhouse manager Rick Stowe told the fan that Griffey would like the ball. Scherer replied, "Before you go any further, because of my circumstances, I'm keeping it. I have plans for it."

"Different people do different things," Griffey said. "I'd like it. I can't control it. The guy has it. I'll worry about it later."

Marlins president David Samson gave him his personal phone number and told him to sleep on his decision. Speaking on Scherer's behalf, Samson said his name was Joe, was in his mid-40s, and had been a season-ticket holder since 1993. Samson said he had met him at a few of the Marlins' events.

"He's a Marlins fan, he recognizes the importance of the ball, and he recognizes the importance that it would have to Ken, who he called a class act and a first-rate player," Samson said. "He's going to call me [on Tuesday]. We're going to talk about the ball and what the best course of action is for it."

Justin Kimball, a 25-year-old from Miami, told reporters he was the one who caught the home run ball but had it ripped from his hands.

"It corroborates it on video evidence that I caught the ball, and I have a bunch of people here saying I caught the ball," said Kimball, pointing to scratches on his leg and arm. "I reached, I caught it, I brought it back and the guy just ripped it out of my hands."

But video evidence showed a man in a Florida jersey catching the ball, and Samson said it was clear that man was Scherer. Eventually, Major League baseball authenticated the home run ball for Scherer.

In June 2008, Scherer announced he would auction the ball, stating that he needs the money. Griffey suggested that he think about it very carefully. "It's his choice. I'd like to have it, but it is what it is," said Griffey.

When Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, was asked about Scherer, he said, "He's got to separate fantasy from reality. ... I don't think the dollar value is going to be anything close to what Joe thinks. This ball didn't break any records and it's not unique."

Through the Marlins' front office, Griffey passed along an offer to Scherer for the return of the ball. It included 10 Griffey memorabilia items, including some game-used articles, items that came from other players, and an all-expense paid trip for four people to New York for the All-Star break, including tickets the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. But Scherer declined.

Scherer used Mastro Auctions to sell the ball for $42,000 in August 2008.
Manny Ramirez
Sunday, June 1, 2008, 9:29pm
Camden Yards (Baltimore)
500th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
Damon Woo
40, financial analyst
Manhattan, New York
What's the Story?
"I'm going to catch Manny's 500th home run tonight," the Woo said over the phone the day before playing a round of golf at Andrews Air Force Base with his brother, Jason. Woo had promised his girlfriend's son, Ryan McCarthy, that if he caught Ramirez' historic home run the ball, it would go to the then-15-year-old.

Sitting in Section 94, seats 15 and 16, Woo pulled out his camera when Manny Ramirez stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh inning.

"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone," Ramirez said.

At 9:29 p.m. the specially-labeled ball, identified as ball No. 92, was flying straight towards the Woo brothers. Damon snapped a quick picture before stuffing his camera into his pocket and bracing for the impact of the ball. "I have never seen a ball look so big," Jason remembered.

Damon lunged forward slightly, positioning himself such that the ball hit him in the neck, where he trapped with his right hand. The Red Sox fan, wearing his bright red t-shirt, quickly took off his blue Sox hat, stuffed the ball into it and proceeded to place both in his pocket.

Jason covered him until Baltimore police made their way to their seats and escorted the two to the Red Sox clubhouse. "Nobody was going to take it away from us," said Damon.

After being ushered away by security and into the Red Sox clubhouse, Damon called McCarthy to let him know that he had, indeed, caught Ramirez' home run and now needed marching orders to know what to do with it. McCarthy gave Woo and his brother permission to hand the ball over to Ramirez.

Presented the ball to a grateful Ramirez, Woo said "Congratulations, you got 500. It's all yours."

"It belongs to [Ramirez]," said Woo. "It's his accomplishment. It's his achievement. It's his ball. He said I could borrow it for the night, but it's his. That's the right thing to do."

Woo received equipment and memorabilia from Ramirez and some game tickets from the Boston Red Sox.

"They are so nice, and I'm just happy to have the ball," Ramirez said. "What I want to do with the ball is take some pictures with my kids," Ramirez said. "I don't want to keep the ball. I want to see how much money I get, because I want to put it toward a hospital that I'll donate money to." He planned on giving it to a local children's charity in Boston, but no such event ever took place, and it is assumed the ball is still in the possession of the player.

"I like to think for the rest of my life I have a connection to Manny Ramirez," Woo said. "That sentiment will always be there. I realize the personalities play in an important role as role models for not just kids, but folks in general, but they're still human at the same time. We all make mistakes. Hopefully those numbers keep going up and I'll have a chance to catch 600 someday and 700 and see him go into the Hall of Fame."

Woo has received a ton of e-mails from friends around the globe, some of whom he hasn't spoken with in a while. "As [the story] slowly circled the globe, folks I have lost touch with over the years have called or dropped me an e-mail," he said. "People have been telling me I did the right thing and I've certainly been on a high from that. ... The company I keep, [people approve by] about 98 percent. "The responses from friends has been overwhelmingly that I did the right thing. That put me on a life's high as well."

Still, there's been that little devil on his shoulder telling him he should have kept the ball. "The first couple of days it hit me once an hour where I had the reflex, 'Oh, God! What did I do? I'm now happy to say it's down to about once a day." His brother would frequently call to remind him that he did the right thing. "He provided that moral support," said Woo.
Ryan Zimmerman
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Nationals Park (Washington, DC)
grand slam to win the first game at Nationals Park
Who Caught the Ball?
?
What's the Story?
After the game, Zimmerman traded a signed jersey for the home run ball, which he planned to either keep at his house or give to his parents as a memento.
Jim Thome
Sunday, September 16, 2007
U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago)
500th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
Will Stewart
28, accountant
Austin, Texas
What's the Story?
In the days leading up to the record homer, Thome said he wanted the ball back and planned to drive with his father to deliver it to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Stewart didn't know until he got to the game that he had a chance to see baseball history. "I got to meet him.." Thome said. "He came in the following year to the Cubs and Sox series," Thome said. "He was a great guy from Dallas, a guy who flew in, was on a business trip. Really didn't even know anything about what the significance of the game was and he caught the ball. The guy was great. The guy was absolutely wonderful."

Stewart chose to return the ball to Thome. In return, the White Sox offered Stewart two season tickets for the 2008 season and an autographed ball and bat. Stewart chose to donate the two season tickets to the charity of Thome's choice. They were eventually auctioned off during the Joyce Thome Benefit for the Children's Hospital of Illinois, an event named in honor of Thome's late mother.

The team said they will fly Stewart out from Texas with a group of his friends to sit in Thome's box during one of the White Sox-Cubs games next season.

Thome and his father visited Cooperstown to deliver his 500th home run ball to the Hall of Fame. "That wasn't a ball that I should keep, that was something the Hall should have," Thome said. "It would just be sitting on my mantle at home. Now it's something for everyone to see." The great father-son trip to Cooperstown "was really special for us," Thome said. "At the hotel [the Otesaga] there, my dad and I sat out on the terrace and they had lunch for us. They told us all the stories about the Hall of Famers. We toured the museum. I think it was the greatest days of my dad's life. And other than the birth of my children, it was the greatest day of my life."
David Freese
Thursday, October 27, 2011 • Busch Stadium (St. Louis)
2011 World Series, Game 6: won the game and evened the World Series at 3-3
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Jim Thome
Monday, August 15, 2011 • Comerica Park (Detroit)
600th career home run
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Derek Jeter
Saturday, July 9, 2011 • Yankee Stadium (New York)
3000th career hit
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Alex Rodriguez
Wednesday, August 4, 2010 • Yankee Stadium (New York)
600th career home run
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Daniel Nava
Saturday, June 12, 2010 • Fenway Park (Boston)
4th player in history to hit a grand slam in his 1st major league at-bat (this one on the first pitch)
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Gary Sheffield
Friday, April 17, 2009 • Citi Field (New York)
500th career home run
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Ken Griffey Jr.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 • Dolphin Stadium (Miami)
600th career home run
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Manny Ramirez
Sunday, June 1, 2008, 9:29pm • Camden Yards (Baltimore)
500th career home run
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Ryan Zimmerman
Sunday, March 30, 2008 • Nationals Park (Washington, DC)
grand slam to win the first game at Nationals Park
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Jim Thome
Sunday, September 16, 2007 • U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago)
500th career home run
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