Longtime fan snags Alvarez HR ball: 'This is staying with me'

November 6th, 2022

HOUSTON -- It was about 9:45 a.m. on Saturday when Jim Rice got a call from his boss, who could no longer make it to Minute Maid Park for Game 6 of the World Series. That phone call forever cemented Rice in the history of his favorite team.

Rice, the chief accounting officer at a Dallas-area oil-and-gas firm, sat in his boss’ seat at a table atop the 40-foot-high brick batter’s eye in center field, marveling at his view of the field -- but never imagining that a baseball could possibly reach him. But when took a mighty swing in the sixth inning of the Astros' 4-1 victory, the three-run home run ball destined to win the World Series for Houston just kept carrying, carrying and carrying -- all the way to Rice, an Astros fan of 49 years.

"I thought, when I saw these seats, 'These are great seats. You can see everything in the stadium,’” Rice said. “Unfortunately, I'm out of home run distance unless someone really gets a hold of one.

“There aren't many people on this team that can get a hold of one like Yordan can,” he continued with a grin.

That titanic clout off the bat of the 25-year-old slugger was projected to travel 450 feet, the second-longest homer tracked by Statcast in the World Series. Only Freddie Freeman has hit a longer moonshot in the Fall Classic, a 460-foot bash in Game 5 of the 2021 World Series. Several fans who had sat atop the batter’s eye for years remarked that they’d never seen a ball hit up there in person.

The significance -- and majesty -- of Alvarez’s homer was immense, making him the only player in postseason history with multiple go-ahead homers in the sixth inning or later with his team trailing -- and remarkably, all three have come this postseason. It’s a blast that sent Minute Maid Park into a frenzy, dragging the Astros out of a 1-0 deficit and putting them nine outs away from their second World Series title in franchise history.

Rice remembers being at an Astros game in 1983 for his 10th birthday, watching José Cruz hit a game-winning homer. He was there in 2005 when the White Sox completed a World Series sweep over his Astros -- the only other time he’s made it to the Fall Classic in person.

Needless to say, he’s still astonished to find himself in the middle of one of the biggest moments in the history of his favorite team.

"I can't describe it, to be honest with you. It really hasn't sunk in yet. I'm starting to get all the texts and emails from everybody. It's been pretty neat, and to see Yordan, who's one of my favorite players these days, to see him come through like that, was just incredible."

As for what he’s going to do with the baseball? He’s not thinking twice. No matter who comes for the baseball, he’s holding on to it, and it’s going onto his shelf -- his own piece of Astros history, 49 years of fandom later.

“No doubt, this is staying with me,” Rice said. “This is my title memory right here."