Maldonado knocks cover off ball -- literally

Broadcaster Uecker, both managers marvel at catcher's unique hit

April 19th, 2014

PITTSBURGH -- Someday, Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado will gather his grandchildren and tell them about the night he literally knocked the cover off the baseball.

Maldonado had never seen it happen before. Neither had Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle or longtime Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, who has witnessed a few ballgames in his day.

"I mean, I remember as a kid when you use the same ball so long that it tears," Uecker said, laughing in the clubhouse while examining Maldonado's keepsake. "We'd tape it up and keep on playing."

In a scene straight out of the movies -- minus the towering, game-winning home run -- Maldonado was awarded an infield hit thanks to a major equipment malfunction in Friday's 5-3 win over the Pirates.

It was the sixth inning, with a runner on, when Maldonado smacked a ground ball to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, connecting just right to tear the seams away from the core of the baseball. With a chunk of leather flapping in the breeze, Alvarez's throw fluttered well short of first base, and Maldonado was easily safe.

"I feel like I hit it on the barrel, not on the end of the bat," Maldonado said. "But when I looked down, I see that something was spinning. I never thought it was the ball uncovered. I thought he threw it to second base. Then I looked back and saw the ball and I was like, 'That's kind of weird.'

"That's a hit. I'll take it. I think that's the only infield hit I'll ever get, other than bunts."

Hurdle came out of the dugout to investigate and had a chuckle with plate umpire Sean Barber. The Pirates weren't smiling moments later, though, as Maldonado's lucky hit -- one of his three singles in the game -- led to a Brewers run when Carlos Gomez reached on an infield single of his own.

This time, the baseball remained intact.

"Never, ever have seen that before," Hurdle said of the "Maldy" ball. "I know one thing, it is tough to throw the ball when that happens."

The baseball made its way to the Brewers' clubhouse after the game, where a club official stored it temporarily for safe keeping. Eventually, Maldonado hopes to add it to his memorabilia collection.

"I've never seen it in my life," said power-hitting Brewers first baseman Mark Reynolds. "Sometimes you see a guy hit a ball off the end of the bat, and it's, like, cut. But I think he barreled it. I don't know what happened. It's interesting."