Aug 15, 2012
Milwaukee's Ballhawk Shawn has been tracking Prince Fielder home runs for virtually Fielder's entire career. So when Fielder came to bat in this year's home run derby at Kaufmann Stadium, Shawn's approach wasn't that different from his typical approach at the hundreds of batting practices he attended at Miller Park during Fielder's Brewer years.
Of course, this time it wasn't so easy. Tight security and masses of enthusiastic ballhawks made a snag of a 2012 home run derby ball all but impossible.
"People were literally fighting each other for spots in the standing room," he said. "Pushing, pulling, shoving and the like seemed to all be standard procedure. I had seen children leveled by adults, young women being muscled around by grown men and people climbing on top of ridiculous things like light poles, monuments and vendors. It was kind of a madhouse."
In the middle of the chaos, Shawn was having a rough time finding a good spot to catch a homer. Finally, with Fielder at bat, he located a staircase that an usher was keeping clear.
"What was my plan, exactly? " he said. "I would strategically pass up and down the stair case, which lead to an aisle that hooked around RF to the foul pole. As long as I kept moving, who was to say I couldn't pass? What rule would I have been breaking?"
Fielder began pumping home runs into the right field crowd, and one of those homers came sailing towards Shawn just as he was making his pass through the staircase. He made a valiant effort at it but it sailed just over his head. Luckily, however, it bounced straight up into the air, creating a "jump ball" scenario with the pack of ballhawks.
Shawn jumped up, snagged it with his glove, and aggressively defended his prize against another fan who was going for it.
"I let loose a huge fist pump to the sky and began screaming at the top of my lungs," he said. "I felt on top of the world! A few more signature fist pumps later, I was on my way back to show my prize to my family."
"It was an amazing feeling," he said. "The entire (baseball) world was watching ME for those few moments. Not only were they watching me, but they were watching me accomplish the height of my passion, doing something some of my ballhawk peers can only dream of accomplishing. Catching a home run in a sold out stadium, during a celebration of the planet's best home run hitters, in front of the entire world! I had reached the pinnacle!"
Check out the video of Ballhawk Shawn's Home Run Derby Snag (look for the fist-pumping guy in the red shirt at the 0:39 mark)