Jul 21, 2010
Ballhawk Shawn's Blog
Less than 24 hours after snagging back-to-back home runs in Milwaukee, Ballhawk Shawn returned to Miller Park for the Sunday game knowing that it could very well be another very memorable day. Having collected 995 balls up to that point, he knew that he was just five balls away from joining the exclusive 1,000 ball club.
Shawn's career average on Sundays is only around two balls per game, so there was a chance he'd have to wait a couple weeks before the Brewers returned to Miller Park. Still, he entered the park with a feeling that this would be the magical day. "I cannot describe to you how excited I was when the batting cage crept into my jostling field of vision," he wrote on his blog. "Mid-stride, I fist pumped, almost as to preeminently celebrate the impending milestone. I knew fate was on my side."
Very quickly, it was obvious that he was right. He got a toss-up from Corey Hart shortly after entering the right field bleachers, and followed that up with two home run snags off the bats of Jim Edmonds and Casey McGehee.
At that point he was sitting on 998, knowing that this was indeed going to be the day. As the Brewers' second BP group went to the cage, he tried to decide what his goal would be for his 1,000th ball. "I had settled on the goal of catching a Prince Fielder BP blast for my 1,000th," he wrote.
He got a toss-up from Joe Inglett for his 999th, setting up the moment when he would do what very few ballhawks in history have been able to do. But when Fielder came to bat and sent a home run flying his way, he changed his mind about wanting his 1,000th to come from him. Instead, he avoided the Fielder ball, as well as a couple others, in hopes that number 1,000 would truly be special in a profound way.
When Brewers' Manager Ken Macha walked out to right field to retrieve some balls, Shawn knew that this was just the type of "special" snag he was looking for. "I've been a Ken Macha supporter for quite some time," he wrote. "Ever since he took the Athletics deep into the playoffs all the way to his hiring in Milwaukee."
Shawn's respect and admiration for Macha made him the perfect candidate to dish out the big number 1,000. Amidst a sea of fans screaming for a ball, Shawn made his move. "I leaned over the railing about 15 feet above Ken, knowing fully well what a tossup would yield, and soft, but firmly shouted 'How's it going skipper?'" he wrote. "Ken looked up with a huge smile on his face. I tipped my cap to Kenny and he asked how I was doing. After I responded with 'Absolutely wonderfully, how about yourself,' Ken Macha muttered something and underhanded me my 1,000th career baseball."
And with that simple toss-up, Ballhawk Shawn attained quadruple digits, a feat this is extremely rare in the world of ballhawking. On myGameBalls.com, only Zack Hample and John Witt have achieved the milestone.
In a matter of seconds, the full weight of what he had just accomplished overcame him, and he took some time to reflect on the historic moment. "It was only a few short years ago I was fielding my first career baseball, a gloveless kid at a midseason interleague match up, from my all time-favorite baseball player Ron Villone," he wrote. "Now, a mere 226 games later, I was reeling in my 1,000th. All the great moments of my ballhawking life flashed before my eyes, everything from my 1st baseball, to my 1st gamer, to my world-record 32 ball performance to my home run catches the night before. After thanking God for blessing me beyond my wildest dreams, I had a peculiar feeling. The greatest moments are yet to come."
Shawn didn't even have to wait very long at all for one of the moments to happen. In the second inning, Lastings Milledge hit a home run that bounced to outfielder Carlos Gomez. Gomez turned and fired it into the glove of Ballhawk Shawn, making him the recipient of three game home run balls in a period of two games.
Then, to top it all off, in the 9th inning Pirates' outfielder Andrew McCutchen tossed him the first ground rule double of his career. Shortly thereafter, Corey Hart gave the Brewers the victory with a walk-off home run, ending Ballhawk Shawn's big day in dramatic fashion. "Everyone left happy, but none happier than I," he wrote.