ballcatchers.com
A home run is perfect.
A home run is a gift.
A home run is history.
And sometimes history picks you.
Albert Pujols
Saturday, June 3, 2017, 8:46pm
Angel Stadium (Anaheim)
600th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
Scotty Steffel
23, student at California State University-Fullerton
Costa Mesa, California
What's the Story?
The Angels slugger belted his 600th career home run, a towering grand slam to the short left-field porch at Angel Stadium. Pujols hit a 87 mph slider off of Twins pitcher Ervin Santana on a 1-2 slider count with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Albert Pujols is the first player to get his 600th home run with a grand slam. He is the ninth member of the 600 home run club and the fourth youngest, trailing only Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth.

After a scramble in the seats, Scotty Steffel emerged with the ball. While Pujols was being interviewed on the field after the game, Steffel presented the ball and got a hug from Pujols in return.
David Ortiz
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg)
500th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
Alan Schuster
35, web developer
VA
What's the Story?
On a 2-2 count, Ortiz launched an 80 mph breaking ball from Matt Moore deep into the right-center-field seats at Tropicana Field to lead off the fifth inning. Moore stepped off the mound and watched.

A man from Virginia wearing an Orioles shirt caught the ball. The fan, who asked to remain anonymous, was escorted out of the stands after the ball was authenticated and later met Ortiz.

"He was very nice. He handed it to me, no problem," Ortiz said. "I really appreciate it. We had a very nice package for him."

The fan is also choosing to stay anonymous for now, something Ortiz appreciates.

"He doesn't want many people to know about him, so I've got to respect that about him," he said.

Alan Schuster later came forward as the fan who caught the ball. He gave the ball to Ortiz that night in exchange for some undisclosed "perks" from the Red Sox. Schuster is choosing to keep the details of the exchange private.
Alex Rodriguez
Friday, June 19, 2015
Yankee Stadium (New York)
3000th career hit
Who Caught the Ball?
Zack Hample
37, sportswriter
New York, NY
What's the Story?
According to his website, Hample has snagged more than 8,000 baseballs across 51 major league stadiums since 1990. He's written three books, including "How To Snag Major League Baseballs," and has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Hample was sitting in the right-field seats when Rodriguez hit the first-inning solo home run.

"My intention all along, I've been imagining this scenario as a one-in-a-million, was not to give it back," Hample told reporters. "You know, just because the guy who got Jeter's 3,000th hit, a lot of people called him an idiot. A lot of people said that he was a wonderful person and extremely generous. And I really think that, whatever you want to do with it is your choice."

"I think that someone like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who has made half a billion dollars in his career, doesn't really need a favor from a normal civilian and a fan like me. I don't know right now if I'm going to sell it. I mean, depending on what the Yankees could offer, I would consider giving it back. I'm not giving it back for -- I don't plan to give it back for a chance to meet him and full autographed bats because I don't collect bats, I collect baseballs. Just having this ball is so meaningful to me. I can't believe that I got it."

"[Yankees head of security] Eddie Fastook was the first person who spoke to me after I snagged the baseball and he made a number of generous offers," Hample said. "By the end of the game, I heard that [Yankees president Randy Levine] wanted to speak with me. So I went up into his office, and [chief operating officer Lonn Trost] was there, as well."

"As far as we're concerned, we have done everything we could to engage this guy in some type of discussion about some type of exchange," Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said. "He had none of anything we were saying. He wouldn't engage at all."

Rodriguez mentioned the fan who caught Jeter's home run ball for his 3,000th hit in 2011. That man was all too eager to return it to the former Yankees star. "Where's Jeet's guy? That's the guy I needed," Rodriguez said after the game. "I wasn't so lucky." But Rodriguez claimed that he didn't care much about getting the ball back. "Maybe years ago that would have been kind of an important thing for me," Rodriguez said. "By far, nothing that I've done personally would ever compare to winning the championship in 2009. I don't have a ball, I don't have a bat from that, but I do have a memory, and the memory lives forever. Kind of the same way I feel about today."

The Yankees continued to try to negotiate with Hample, who was persistent in his reluctance. David Kohler of SCP Auctions, which sold Rodriguez's 500th home run ball for $105,000, said that the 3,000th hit ball is worth more than $50,000.

After two weeks of negotiations, the Yankees agreed to donate $150,000 to Pitch In For Baseball, a charity Hample supports that helps underserved communities afford to play the game. Hample will also receive some memorabilia, tickets and other perks from the Yankees.

"Something kind of went off in my head at that point, and I thought, 'Hmmm, all right, a few hours ago there was no way I was giving it back,'" Hample said. "When that generous offer was made by Mr. Levine, I thought, 'All right, now I have to consider that.'
"Really, the thing that stuck out in my mind was how kind the Yankees were and how generous, and how well they treated me. I really was thinking Pitch In for Baseball and how I could use the situation to help them."

"They were just so nice," Hample said of his dealings with Levine and Yankees COO Lonn Trost. "It was just unbelievable how cool those guys were. They didn't pressure me or bully me or use any sort of sinister tactics. They just wanted to have a conversation to get to know me. Mr. Levine said he had heard me being spoken about on the air. 'Eight-thousand baseballs, what is the story?' I told him about my collection, how I've worked in baseball over the years, on and off. I mentioned my involvement with the charity Pitch In For Baseball. At that point, a little light bulb went off in his head."

At a Yankee Stadium news conference, Hample reached into his backpack and presented the ball -- which he had kept safe in a bag -- to Rodriguez. He then apologized to Rodriguez for negative things he expressed earlier on Twitter, and Rodriguez both thanked and forgave him.

"You are forgiven," Rodriguez said. "I have a Ph.D. in saying some dumb things over the years, so I can probably actually relate." Then, when the laughter subsided, Rodriguez took a moment to reflect. He plans on giving the ball to his daughters.
Alex Rodriguez
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 5:07pm
Yankee Stadium (New York)
661st career home run, passing Willie Mays' career total
Who Caught the Ball?
What's the Story?
Number 661 came on a 1-1 pitch from Chris Tillman, a hanging changeup, and Rodriguez belted it into the runway between Monument Park and the visitors bullpen in left-center field.

The ball was likely retrieved by stadium officials and returned to Rodriguez.
Alex Rodriguez
Friday, May 1, 2015
Fenway Park (Boston)
660th career home run, tying Willie Mays' career total
Who Caught the Ball?
Mike Shuster
25, financial adviser
Warwick, RI
What's the Story?
Red Sox fan Mike Shuster got to Fenway Park 10 minutes late and bought the last single-seat ticket remaining above the Green Monster: Section 2, Row 3, Seat 4. He was in the bathroom when he heard Rodriguez's name called as a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth.

"I ran back here and right as I got back to my seat, the home run was coming right at me," Shuster said.

With the green light on 3-0, Rodriguez turned on a 94 mph fastball and lined it into the Monster Seats in left for number 660, which ironically was also his first as a pinch-hitter.

According to Statcast, A-Rod's 660th left the bat at 117 mph and traveled a distance of 419 feet, with a launch angle of 19 degrees. It sailed to the third row of Fenway's Monster Seats, where Shuster ended up with the baseball.

His initial reaction was like that of many in the ballpark, or at least those supporting the Red Sox. Two thumbs down, he motioned to the world as its collective eyes looked upon him.

Fan Michael Polacco was sitting just to Shuster's left and briefly got his hand on the ball. "I wanted to throw that ball back," Polacco said. "There was a 1,000-percent chance that's what I would have done. We hate the Yankees around here and we can't stand him."

The baseball would remain in Shuster's possession for the rest of the game. At one point, Shuster was spotted near the Yankees dugout, so perhaps some form of negotiations were underway. Or perhaps he was taunting the Yankees and A-Rod.

"I know he got paid $6 million just to hit the home run, maybe," said Shuster. "If he wanted to take a picture with the ball, he'd be more than welcome, but I'm not giving it to him." Shuster was well aware of the marketing bonus that was in Rodriguez's contract, the clause the Yankees intend to fight, according to sources, who say the mark is tarnished by A-Rod's admission of performance-enhancing drug use.

He said he wasn't interested in trading the ball for any Yankees memorabilia or the David Ortiz-signed bats the Red Sox offered. "I wasn't going to give it away," said Shuster. "I think I can hold my own. I'm in sales. I'm gonna go home and sleep on it and see what I can come up with." A source said the Red Sox "offered him the world."

Shuster said he has no intention of ever presenting it to A-Rod. When Rodriguez learned Shuster wouldn't surrender the milestone ball, he said, "We'll see what happens. I haven't been good at negotiations."

Shuster said he would sleep on it before making a final decision about the ball's fate. "It's a questionable ball," Shuster said. "Throwing it back definitely makes a statement, but that's done all the time for a lot of things. I think something different should be done with this ball with greater significance. I'm not sure what that is yet. I thought about blowing the ball up and making a video of it."
Albert Pujols
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 8:32pm
Nationals Park (Washington)
500th career home run
Who Caught the Ball?
Tom Sherrill
29, Air Force serviceman
Pomona, California
What's the Story?
Pujols made history with a drive over the left-center-field fence. The ball flew through the hands of one fan, ricocheted off a step in the aisle, and bounced off Sherrill's belly and into his hands.

Sherrill said he would be giving the ball back. He knew Pujols would value the ball more, so he planned to hand it over after the game. "I'll take whatever they want to give me, but I'm not going to be picky. I just want to make sure that Albert gets the ball. I'm just happy to be a part of it," Sherrill told Angels broadcasters Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza on Fox Sports West.

Sherrill gave the ball to Pujols in exchange for autographed memorabilia.
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.
Albert Pujols
Saturday, June 3, 2017, 8:46pm • Angel Stadium (Anaheim)
600th career home run
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David Ortiz
Saturday, September 12, 2015 • Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg)
500th career home run
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Alex Rodriguez
Friday, June 19, 2015 • Yankee Stadium (New York)
3000th career hit
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Alex Rodriguez
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 5:07pm • Yankee Stadium (New York)
661st career home run, passing Willie Mays' career total
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Alex Rodriguez
Friday, May 1, 2015 • Fenway Park (Boston)
660th career home run, tying Willie Mays' career total
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Albert Pujols
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 8:32pm • Nationals Park (Washington)
500th career home run
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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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