I have never been fortunate to catch a home run or a foul ball. In fact, I’m not even sure I remember a ball getting anywhere near a section I sat in. So yeah, I never really have had the chance to take home a used baseball from the ballpark.
One guy, however, was able to catch two home runs during this year’s NLCS between the Dodgers and Cubs. Retired police officer Keith Hupp caught Justin Turner’s walkoff home run to close out Game 2 and made a pretty impressive catch for that ball. Hupp followed that up by catching Javy Baez’s homer from Game 4 last night at Wrigley.
Turner’s walkoff homer was easy in the sense that Hupp was the only person going for the ball. Yes, he had to reach over the railing and made a great catch, but he didn’t have any competition. Baez’s home run was in a bigger crowd and Hupp was able to get the ball.
“Everyone was about half my age, but I pounced. I’ll pounce if there are no kids around,” Hupp said.
“I grabbed the ball and tried to tuck it in, like a football,” he said. “I got piled on pretty good, I could feel a couple guys trying to rip it out of my glove. It felt like I got a cracked rib.”
Hupp is a ballhawk, which immediately comes to mind grown adults bowling over children for a baseball. But Hupp doesn’t seem to be a stereotypical ballhawk, though he’s just getting into it. At least he has standards and won’t go full out when there are kids around so good on him if he wants to catch baseballs as a hobby.
Hupp has caught 11 home run balls this season before the playoffs. And even for a ballhawk, that’s impressive. You can get in the best position to catch a home run but there aren’t too many home runs hit per game and they need to hit it right where you’re standing. It might be a bit easier if you are at a stadium that’s half filled and you’re the only person sitting in your section. But doing it at a mostly filled and sold out stadium, that bumps up the difficulty.