Fowler goes into stands for Schrock's HR ball

August 19th, 2020

With no fans in the stands giving baseball a completely new look in 2020, Dexter Fowler took advantage on Monday night at Wrigley Field.

In the fourth inning of the Cardinals' 5-4 loss to the Cubs in the second game of a doubleheader split, Fowler wandered over to the right-field bleachers and retrieved Max Schrock’s first career home run ball. Schrock went back-to-back with Brad Miller to extend St. Louis' lead at the time, and Fowler, who homered in Game 1 and didn’t start Game 2, was sitting in the stands near the dugout.

When the Cubs made a pitching change later that inning, Fowler headed out to the bleachers. Video shows that he came away with the ball, but after the game, Schrock -- who made his Major League debut on Saturday and knocked two hits -- hadn’t gotten hold of it yet.

“He came down and said he tried to get it for me but said he didn’t snag it, so I don’t know,” Schrock said. “I was trying to get a pitch to hit. [Cubs reliever Kyle Ryan] had a cutter and sinker going both ways, so I was trying to tunnel toward the middle. Got 2-0 and put a good swing on a pitch. … It was a pretty exciting night.”

Fowler wasn’t available postgame Monday, but he gave his side of the story before Tuesday’s game in Chicago. As soon as Schrock hit it, Fowler wanted to go get the ball. He looked up to president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and said he was going to go get it, and Mozeliak gave him the all clear, Fowler said.

“I found a way to get back up there -- up the stairs, all around the ballpark,” said Fowler, a former Cub. “I had never been up that side of the ballpark, but I ended up getting out there.”

But then came a wrinkle: Two batters after Schrock, Harrison Bader beat out an infield single. It looked like he had tweaked his knee or hamstring while landing on the base, so a trainer came out -- and all of a sudden, bench coach Oliver Marmol was motioning to Fowler to get down to the dugout to potentially replace Bader.

“The trainer comes out and I’m like, ‘You got to be kidding me,’” Fowler said. “So then Ollie’s like, ‘Man, come on. You have to come in the game.’ I have turfs on, so then I sprinted all the way down, all the way back in the dugout, and I get up in there, putting on my cleats in the cage down there, and I get out there, and Ollie’s like, ‘Hey, you’re not going in anymore.’ and I’m like, ‘You’re kidding me.'"

At this point, though, Fowler was on a mission. He went back up to the right-field bleachers to get the ball, but then ran into the authenticator, who told Fowler he was going to get the ball.

“I said, ‘No, you’re not. I’m going to get the ball,’” Fowler said. “I said, ‘This is my second time up there, you’re not denying me getting this ball.’ So I went down and got it.”

Once Fowler retrieved it, he gave it to the authenticator, explaining why Schrock hadn’t gotten the ball yet Monday night. By the time Fowler went back to sit in the stands, he had been on quite the journey.

“I was sweating bullets,” Fowler said. "And [first-base umpire Laz Diaz] goes, ‘What the [heck] were you doing up there?' I was like, ‘I was getting the man his home run ball.’ And he goes, ‘I’ve never seen that before. They’re calling to right field for the guy to come run bases. And you’re all the way in right field and had to run back.’

"I said, ‘Man, stranger things have happened. It’s 2020.'”

Fowler’s journey through the stands to retrieve the milestone ball was one of two unique experiences for the Cardinals and Cubs on Monday night. Because Game 2 was a makeup of a postponed game on Aug. 7 at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals batted in the bottom of the inning.

“It was weird to be in a home setting with gray uniforms,” Shildt said. “And like we talked about with Dexter going after the home run ball, just a lot of first. A lot of firsts.”