Apr 7, 2010
Don Chilcote's Blog
Every once in a while, a home run ball gets hit that is literally snagged by nobody. It lands in a spot inaccessible by fans and then for whatever reason doesn't get picked up by a stadium employee. For the hardcore ballhawk, such a ball will distract him for the rest of the game, keeping him occupied trying to think of a way to get to the ball and snag it.
Last week Colorado's Don Chilcote, AKA The Rockpile Ranter, attended a Spring Training game at Isotopes Park and spent much of the game obsessing over not one but two unclaimed home run balls. And when the game ended he went on a daring mission to retrieve the balls and returned victorious, snagging the 2nd and 3rd game home run balls of his career.
The first of two homers was a towering shot hit by Jason Giambi in the 5th inning that landed in the center field batter's eye. On his blog The Ranter recorded his thoughts at the moment. "I think to myself...'Wow...there's a Giambi homer just sitting there untouched' and I continue to watch the game."
Shortly thereafter, only an inning later, Brad Eldred launched a home run into almost the exact same spot. At that point both balls were clearly visible in the batter's eye, but no stadium personnel were going over to pick them up. "I found myself staring at the batter's eye thinking about those two baseballs," he wrote. "I was talking to my buddy Jack and mentioned the baseballs and the fact that they were just sitting there untouched."
So The Ranter began scheming, trying to devise a way to secure the balls. He was a man on a mission, and simply wouldn't be denied. "I realized at that point that I couldn't leave Isotopes stadium without those two home run baseballs in my possession."
He came up with a few different battle plans, but none were easy. The plan he settled on was to climb over a railing into the batter's eye, snag the balls, and then climb back up. This plan allowed for low visibility, but the climbing would be difficult.
As the last out was recorded in the 9th, he made his move. Capturing the entire episode on video, The Ranter pulled off his plan to perfection. "I was in and out of there in less than a minute and as far as I can tell I was smooth like butter," he wrote. "because I strutted out of Isotopes Park with both of those baseballs in my possession."
It was a bold and daring move, but according to the Ranter it just had to be done. "All I can say is had I not taken the chance and grabbed those two game homers it would have grinded on me for the rest of my life," he wrote.