CHICAGO (AP) - Among the age-old traditions at Wrigley Field, throwing back home run balls hit by visiting players is right at the top of the list.
San Francisco’s Miguel Tejada got quite the surprise after hitting a ninth-inning homer in the opening game of a doubleheader Tuesday.
Tejada hit a pitch from John Grabow into the left-field bleachers and before he could get back to the dugout the ball was waiting for him _ compliments of a strong-armed fan.
The Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 13-7 and went on to sweep.
The fan near the front of the seats made a leaping, barehanded catch and fired it back onto the field, the ball bouncing past Tejada as he trotted between second and third base.
“I didn’t see the ball,” Tejada said. “I was just excited to run the bases. It’s been a long time. I don’t want to step on the ball because I’m not looking up, I’m looking down.”
The shot snapped a streak of 225 at-bats without a homer, the longest drought of his career. Tejada, who has 302 career home runs, last went deep on April 8 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The ball eventually trickled over the first-base line toward the Giants dugout. On-deck hitter Aubrey Huff batted the ball backward to Cody Ross, who picked it up and flipped the souvenir to Tejada, who stuffed it into his back pocket.
“What an arm,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I figure he’d get signed today, did he? After that, he might be in somebody’s bullpen. I didn’t know if somebody threw it or somebody shot it. That was quite an arm to reach our dugout.”
“You have to be careful, that’ll do some damage if the ball hits you in the face, especially with the arm he showed.”
A 15-year veteran, Tejada has three career homers at Wrigley and has seen plenty of balls thrown back in his 23 games at the park, but never one quite like that.