Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Bryant grateful to Hanel for returning 1st HR ball

Cubs' top prospect thanks Brewers bullpen catcher by sending him a signed ball
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- The moment Kris Bryant's first Major League home run landed in the Brewers' bullpen on Saturday night, Marcus Hanel knew exactly what he would do with it.

"We're all family, and that's a cherished moment," said Hanel, a Wisconsin native and longtime Brewers bullpen catcher. "I'm not going to hold ransom for that. I mean, yeah, I wish I was a fan, because that thing would have been cool. But that's a moment for him and for baseball. You give those things back."

Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- The moment Kris Bryant's first Major League home run landed in the Brewers' bullpen on Saturday night, Marcus Hanel knew exactly what he would do with it.

"We're all family, and that's a cherished moment," said Hanel, a Wisconsin native and longtime Brewers bullpen catcher. "I'm not going to hold ransom for that. I mean, yeah, I wish I was a fan, because that thing would have been cool. But that's a moment for him and for baseball. You give those things back."

Full Game Coverage

More to come on the path that baseball took to Bryant, but first, the follow-up: On Sunday morning, Bryant sent a clubhouse attendant to deliver a signed baseball for Hanel. Inscribed "To Koos" -- Hanel's nickname -- it read, "Thanks for getting the HR ball!"

Tweet from @AdamMcCalvy: Cool gesture: Kris Bryant signed a ball for #Brewers bullpen C Marcus "Koos" Hanel, who caught & returned HR No. 1. pic.twitter.com/L694YlRTs5

Bryant, the heralded No. 1 Cubs prospect who'd gone homerless in his first 20 Major League games, connected against Kyle Lohse in the third inning of what became a 12-4 Brewers win.

"It's definitely a confidence builder to get the first one out of the way," Bryant said Sunday morning. "The Spring Training homers [he hit nine of them] don't count, so it's cool to get the first one out of the way. I'm just looking forward to building some more confidence and see where I'm at in these next games."

Considering the buildup to Bryant's moment, Hanel knew he had something special when the baseball hit the back wall in the Brewers' bullpen and rolled to a stop.

"I knew as soon as it was hit, 'OK, who's coming to get it?' I saw the security people already talking," Hanel said.

The someone turned out to be visiting clubhouse attendant Ben Wilkes.

"I go, 'I ain't giving it up! I want a bat, a jersey!'" Hanel said. "I really played it up. But he played along. He said, 'I already told [Bryant] you want his firstborn named after you.'"

Wilkes took the ball to a Major League Baseball official for authentication, then took it to the Cubs' clubhouse. As Bryant spoke to reporters after the game, the ball was already sitting on a shelf in his locker.

Whether a milestone home run or not, Hanel has a routine for the baseballs which find their way into the Brewers' bullpen. He subtly pockets the ball, grabs a decoy from his equipment bag and tosses it up into the stands for a fan. Then he puts the ball in an empty cup, straps tape across the top, labels the owner and has each ball authenticated.

Video: CHC@MIL: Rogers' pinch-hit homer breaks game open

On Saturday, Hanel handled a pair of first Major League home runs; two innings after Bryant went deep, Brewers utility man Jason Rogers hit a three-run shot right to Hanel's glove. That baseball was waiting in Rogers' locker after the game.

Hanel also caught Jean Segura's solo home run. But Segura didn't want it, so Hanel set it aside to be auctioned at his "Koos for Kids" charity event next month. For more information, see koosforkids.com.

Video: CHC@MIL: Segura smacks a solo homer to left-center

Bryant's keepsake, meanwhile, was on its way home.

"I'll just keep it. I'll put it somewhere in my room or something," Bryant said. "Those are always special, the first hit. You know I broke my bat on my first hit, so I've got to keep my bat, too. It'll be on the mantel somewhere."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.

 

Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant