Fans can go to hundreds of MLB games and never get so much as a foul ball.
Keith Hupp has grabbed two home-run balls in the 2017 NLCS in two different parks. The second one, off the bat of Javy Baez on Wednesday, wasn’t quite as memorable as the first, but still.
On Sunday night in Los Angeles, the glove-wearing Hupp casually snagged Justin Turner’s dramatic three-run, walk-off homer in the ninth inning at Dodgers Stadium. The historic shot put the Dodgers up 2-0 in the series and came on the same exact day as another famous home run in Dodgers lore — Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit walk-off in the 1988 World Series.
Hupp’s grab definitely received the full 15 minutes of fame.
Hupp, a retired police captain and lifelong Dodgers fan, returned the ball to the Dodgers. He told ESPN that the Dodgers would “hook me up, and I’m sure they will.”
Hupp was at it again on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field in Chicago. When Javy Baez launched a bomb in the second inning, Hupp was there to grab the ball after it caromed. Unlike the clean catch on Turner’s walkoff, the Baez home run came with some pain. [Note: Hupp is wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers jacket in video.]
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“Everyone was about half my age, but I pounced, Hupp, 54, told AP. “I’ll pounce if there are no kids around. I grabbed the ball and tried to tuck it in, like a football,” he said. “I got piled on pretty good, I could feel a couple guys trying to rip it out of my glove. It felt like I got a cracked rib.”
Hupp told AP that he’s a rookie at ballhawking. Still, the Dodgers season-ticket holder says he caught 18 dingers over two seasons.
“I’m still kind of a newbie at this ballhawking stuff,” the retired policeman told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Chicago. “The only thing that’s lightning strike-ish about this is that it’s two in four days.”
In September, Hupp didn’t catch Nos. 35 and 36 off the bat of Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, instead he bought them to return to Bellinger, he told ESPN. Bellinger’s home runs tied and broke the Dodgers record for a rookie. Hupp wanted to make sure he got them.
“I only started doing this stuff a few years ago, after I retired,” he said. “But I do know that catching a home run ball at the World Series, that would be the holy grail.”