DETROIT -- The ball left Albert Pujols’ bat and was quickly headed for the left-field stands. When Tigers fan Ely Hydes snagged the ball as it ricocheted around the empty seats, he had no idea of the ensuing mess.
Ordinarily, it would have marked just one run in Los Angeles’ 13-0 rout of the Tigers at Comerica Park on Thursday. But in this instance, the ball carried extra meaning to Pujols and baseball historians. It was the Angels first baseman’s 2,000th career RBI, making him the third player to reach the milestone.
Hydes, of Detroit, was asked during an in-game interview with Fox Sports Detroit if he planned to return the ball to Pujols. According to WXYT-FM reporter Jeff Riger, Hydes plans to keep the ball for his brother, a Cardinals fan, or the child he and his wife are expecting in the coming weeks. Hydes turned down signed memorabilia from both teams and even a chance to meet Pujols.
“Ransom? That’s strong, but something like that,” Hydes said. “... Pujols wants to meet me, apparently, and talk about it. I don’t know. I just came here for a beer and a game.”
According to Riger, the ball couldn't be officially authenticated after Hydes exited the ballpark.
When Pujols was asked if he entertained the thought of paying, he said he’d rather Hydes keep it.
“I think he can have a great piece of history with him,” Pujols said. “When he looks at the ball, he can remind himself of this game. I don’t fight about it. You know, we play this game for the fans, too. So I just hope that he can enjoy it.
“I won’t pay one penny for that. He can have it. I don’t play this game so I can pay fans so they can give me [things], you know, he can have that piece of history. It’s for the fans, what we play for. I don't have any problem. He has the right to keep it, the ball went into the stands.”
Some will say the ball should be returned to Pujols so it can be added to the three-time National League MVP Award Winner and future Hall of Famer’s already extensive trophy collection.
After all, it’s a part of history, and many think it would serve nicely on a display in Cooperstown.
“All I know is I would give it back to Albert,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “I know he caught the ball, but I would give it back to Albert.”
But Pujols is just thankful he was put in a position to make history.
“There are so many people you know you need to thank,” Pujols said. “It’s something you don’t accomplish by yourself, you know you have to have the help of guys getting on base and you get the opportunity of driving them in.”