The fan who dropped Albert Pujols’s 500th home run on Tuesday night is in great spirits despite being a little sore.
“It was weird going home and then turning on ‘SportsCenter’ and seeing it over and over again,” 45-year-old Chris Gordon told me. “If you don’t know what happened and you just see me tumble, you might think I’m embarrassed. It’s a blur, but I think it turned out to be a better night than if I had caught it.”
Gordon, who lives in Olney and works at NIH, shares a partial season ticket package in Section 305 with a friend. He was originally planning to go to the game with his 12-year-old son Jack, but when his 17-year-old son Tyler told him Tuesday morning that he really wanted to see Pujols play, Gordon found an extra ticket on StubHub in their section. As they regularly do, Gordon and his sons watched the game from the Red Porch.
“I didn’t even know that he had 498,” Gordon said of Pujols’s home run total entering the game. “After Pujols hit number 499 in the first inning, I told Jack and Tyler, ‘I’m going to catch 500.’ I really believed it.”
Gordon was ready in the second inning when Pujols came up again. His sons laughed when Pujols struck out, but that didn’t deter Gordon from returning to the railing at the top of the section when Pujols batted in the top of the fifth. He even told the usher he was about to catch a piece of history.
“She said, ‘Honey, just be careful,’ ” Gordon said.
He didn’t listen.
“The crack of the bat, it just exploded,” Gordon said of Pujols’s historic swing. “He hit it so hard, and I thought, that’s got a chance. I started running down the stairs, and the last 10 feet or so, I was thinking, just get in front of the ball.”
Gordon got in front of the ball, but it bounced off his stomach. He dived, scraping his knees and elbow, but the ball ended up in the hands of 29-year-old Air Force staff sergeant and longtime Angels fan Tom Sherrill.
“At that point, I just wanted to stay down,” said Gordon, who was a Montreal Expos fan while growing up in Buffalo. “I wanted to forget that it had happened. He had it so quickly that it was like I was never there.”
As Sherrill celebrated his incredible good fortune, Gordon got up and gave him a hug.
“There was just a shared thing,” said Gordon, who walked and talked with Sherrill before security led him away with the ball he would later return to Pujols. “It was clear in those couple of minutes that Tom was a really good dude. I believe on some level he knew that if it hadn’t hit me, the ball might’ve ended up on Half Street or back on the field.”
Gordon figured that was the end of his memorable night. He returned to the Red Porch, where fans were still abuzz about what had just happened. Some came up to Gordon to tell him good try.
A security officer returned later in the game and told Gordon that the first thing Sherrill had asked was whether it could be arranged for Gordon and his sons to meet Pujols, too. And so it was that Chris, Jack and Tyler were escorted to the
Cardinals‘ Angels’ clubhouse after the game. They watched Pujols’s news conference with reporters and waited as Pujols met with the fans who caught his 499th home run and Sherrill.
Pujols signed three baseballs for Gordon and his sons. Gordon chatted more with Sherrill about their amazing night and the two exchanged phone numbers.
“This shows that there are good people in the world,” Gordon said. “It’s a moment that I got to share with my kids, and Tom was just so gracious. Even before I knew that he was a lifetime Angels fan, it was meant to be. I don’t quite believe in fate, but the right person ended up with the ball.”
Gordon also praised Sherrill’s decision to return the ball to Pujols, and said he would’ve done the same thing.
“I think he has done something that he can be proud of, and my kids understand that,” Gordon said. “It’s not an object for sale, it’s a memory that you’ll have. Now my kids have a memory that they might want to tell their sons.”