5/13/09 @ Miller Park

Imagine, for a second, you get called up to the show.  It’s your first week in the big leagues and you connect for your 1st career home run.  A fan catches the ball in the bleachers.  You want the ball back for your personal collection, but the fact remains, it’s now the property of the fan.

What’s the ball worth to you?

More on this later…

My good friend “Dino” and I were going to the game together.  We were both jacked for this day.

He arrived at the house with his glove in tow.  It still had the price tag on it.  I asked him if he planned on using that glove to catch anything.  It was rigid and right off the shelf.  So, we took it down into the basement for some much needed love.

5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

A little bit of mink oil on that glove to condition it…

5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg

…and 40 seconds in the microwave to soften the leather.

Now, it just needed to be used.

We got to the stadium and grabbed a table out on Friday’s patio. 

Here’s “Dino” sporting the shirt…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 021.jpg…good taste.

Here’s an abbreviated account of how Batting Practice went…

Ball #1 was a CARLOS CORPORAN toss-up requested in Spanish.
Ball #2 was caught on the fly off the bat of COREY HART.
Ball #3, #4, #5 and #6 were all easter eggs discovered in the left field bleachers!! Whoa!

Brewers BP concluded.

Ball #7 was caught on the fly off the bat of BRETT CARROLL.
Ball #8 was via a JEFFREY URGELLES toss-up.

Marlins BP concluded.

Ball #9 was tossed up by the infamous CHRIS COGHLAN after he finished warming up by the dugout.
Ball #10 was ALFREDO AMEZAGA’s warmup ball used by the dugout.
Ball #11 was JEREMY HERMIDA’s warmup ball used by the dugout.

What came next changed the complexion of the evening in a big way.

Marlins prospect CHRIS COGHLAN, who had just been summoned to the major leagues the week before, stepped to the plate.

“Dino” had gone to the can and I was in the process of putting my long sleeve on due to a drop in the weather. 

The ball went up, I ran over, I leaned over and made the catch.  If you look closely at the highlight, I have another ball in my right hand while I’m making the catch. (?)

The Marlins bullpen called me over and I spoke with Bullpen Coach Steve Foster.  Mr. Foster informed me that the ball was Chris Coghlan’s first career home run.  He offered me another baseball in exchange.  I respectfully declined.  With over 775 career baseballs snagged, I didn’t need another ball.  He asked me what I was looking to get.  I informed him I would like a couple of bats.  Especially, one by the player who hit the ball.  He told me, “oh, you are a big fan.  No problem, we can do that.” 
I assured him that Chris Coghlan would get his home run ball.
I told him the first thing I wanted to do, before all else, was to get the baseball authenticated by major league baseball.  That way, there would be no question as to the authenticity of the ball.  I told him I would not give up the ball until it was authenticated. 

He had no problem with this request.  None whatsoever.  Not at this current time (he later bashed me in the Florida media-changed his tune just a tad).

So, I went over to guest relations and spoke with a supervisor.  I requested the on-site major league baseball authenticator.  After approx. 25 minutes, an authenticator could not be located.  Someone was not doing their job.

For those who do not know, every team is SUPPOSED to have two (2) authenticators present at every major league baseball game.  Not just for the inevitable milestones (ie. 500th home run, 300th win, 3000th hit, etc.), but for the unexpected ones as well (ie. 1st career home run, hit for the cycle, unassisted triple play, etc.)

It was at this time, Media Relations Manager MARTY SEWELL approached me and began to discuss the swap.  I told him I wanted the ball authenticated for the benefit of all parties involved.  That way, there would be no question as to the authenticity of the ball.  I also informed Mr. Sewell I wanted to personally present the ball to Mr. Coghlan at the end of the game for a photo opportunity.  He told me to meet at the Marlins dugout at the end of the game.  When we both realized the ball would not be authenticated, he stated he had no problem with me going back to my seat with the home run ball.

When I got back to my seat, Marlins TV-man CRAIG MINERVINI (the only respectful Marlins employee in this whole ordeal) was in my seat interviewing my buddy “Dino.”

A few minutes later, this was the scene…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 022.jpg…and this…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 026.jpg…Mr. Minervini was extremely cool.

He asked me about my website.  He asked me about my ballhawking career stats. 
Finally, he asked me what it would take to give up the Coghlan home run ball.

For all Florida viewers to see, I handed Craig the
handwritten requests I had decided on 30 minutes earlier.  On those two slips of paper read the following:

1st piece of paper: 
CHRIS COGHLAN GAME BAT signed-
“To Nick, thanks for catching my first home run!”

+

one (1) signed CHRIS COGHLAN ball

AND

2nd piece of paper: 
HANLEY RAMIREZ GAME BAT

THE END.

Mr. Minervini then held up the two slips of paper for the camera and I held up the home run ball. 

There you have it. 
So, where’s the confusion??  Where’s the part about me being unreasonable and asking for a whole bunch of stuff from other players?  Where’s the part about me holding the ball for ransom?   

Two bats. 
Simple as that. 
Plain English-right in front of the camera.  Documented and concrete. 

One by the player who hit the home run AND one by the Marlins stud.

Is that asking too much?  Is that being unreasonable? 
I just don’t see it that way.

It’s my hobby, people…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 029.jpg…some people choose to sell drugs to kids.  Some people choose to abuse drugs, themselves.  Some people choose to get all liquored up and drive their vehicles.  Some people choose to be abusive to their wives and kids.  Some people choose to rob, steal and cheat.  Some people take the lives of others. 

Some people choose to snag baseballs at the ballpark.  Whoopee.

Let me ask you this: 
QUESTION:  Is it okay to catch a historic milestone home run and sell it at auction for $1 million dollars? 

ANSWER: If that’s what it’s worth to someone, hell yeah it’s okay.

On the flip-side:
QUESTION:  Is it okay for a fan to catch a personal milestone of a little-known player and ask for two bats?

ANSWER:  If that’s what it’s worth to someone, you bet it is.

Two different levels…same premise.

During the game, I gave out two (2) baseballs to two kids sitting in my section.  They didn’t ask.  They didn’t have gloves (that I could see).  They were just playing around and I had a few extra. 

About twenty minutes later, this lovely family showed up in my section to congratulate me on my catch…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 031.jpg…they were so nice, I gave their daughter a baseball.  That’s Cassidy holding up her newest prize.  What a cutie!

The game couldn’t get over with soon enough.  I was itching to make the swap of the home run ball for the two bats.

To pass the time…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 034.jpg5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 032.jpg

…I christened a new “CUBS SUCK” ball.  (For those who do not know, the CUBS SUCK ball is used as the throwback ball when an opposing team hits a home run to me).  I keep the real game home run ball and throw back the CUBS SUCK ball. 

NOTE:  I did not throw a ball onto the field after catching Chris Coghlan’s first career homer.  I knew it was Chris’ first home run and didn’t want to get kicked out.

In around the 7th inning, I was approached by this guy…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 035.jpg…that’s visiting team clubhouse manager PHIL ROSEWICZ. 

He came out to my seat with this…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 036.jpg…very cool, indeed.  But, only 1/2 of my request. 
I don’t blame Phil.  He was only acting at the request of the Florida Marlins. 

I could sense this becoming a bigger deal than it needed to be.

Back to the story.

So, the agreement with the Florida Marlins media relations man was I would return to the Marlins dugout with the ball at the end of the game.  I did exactly that.  After being hassled by every grumpy old usher inside Miller Park, I finally made it down to the dugout after the game.

I posed one last time with the home run ball and the written requests…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 041.jpg…okay, it’s no secret.  I wear the opposing team’s hats for their portion of Batting Practice to maximize my ballhawking efforts.  Call me a poseur, call me a fake…whatever.  I call it smart.

I was then greeted by this fella…
5_13_09 Marlins<br />
 vs Brewers @ Miller Park 045.jpg” src=”http://mlblogsthehappyyoungster.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/5_13_0920marlins20vs20brewers2020miller20park20045-thumb-525×393-11555611.jpg” class=”mt-image-center” style=”text-align:center;display:block;margin:0 auto 20px;” width=”525″ height=”393″ /></a></span>…who said he was the on-site MLB authenticator.  Where was he before when I needed him?</p>
<p>Next, the second guy to greet me…<br /><span class=5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 048.jpg…Media Relations Manager Marty Sewell. 

Marty was all smiles at first.  Until he opened his mouth. 
His first words, you ask??

“You better not be jerking us around.” 
“Is this the real home run ball?”
“Why did you have another ball in your hand when you made the catch?”
“This isn’t the home run ball.”

My response, you ask?

“Sir, this is the real home run ball.  I can’t explain why I had another ball in my hand. Actually, I don’t even remember having another ball in my hand when I made the catch.”

I didn’t realize it until I saw the replay. 
Either way you look at it, I was being accused of swapping out the baseballs.  Real classy on their part.  That’s NOT how you start a negotiation with someone.

Take a look at how ol’ Marty’s tune changed in the following pics…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 050.jpg

Good…

5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 054.jpg

…Bad…

5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 059.jpg…Ugly.

I was being accused of swapping the ball EVEN AFTER I was the one who insisted on preserving its integrity by getting the damn thing authenticated. 

Nice. 

This was the same guy that said it was perfectly okay to return to my seat still in possession of the ball.  Now he was changing his tune.

This would not be the first time the Marlins contradicted themselves.

Mr. Sewell informed me I could not have a Hanley Ramirez bat because that was not a part of the deal. 

Hello?  Anyone home?  What deal? 
The only deal I recall was the one I personally displayed for your Marlins TV cameras about 2 hours earlier. 

Florida Marlins team psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Fishbein stepped in and took over the negotiations. 

Here he is explaining to me in great detail why I could not get the Hanley Ramirez bat…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 066.jpg…very convincing little fella.  All mind games but very convincing.

After they made a stink about the Ramirez bat, I let the idea go.

IT WAS AT THIS TIME, that I asked for tickets to the Marlins/Brewers (NOT YANKEES) series at their stadium in Miami June 1 – June 4 in the place of the Hanley Ramirez bat.

The hero of the day, the almighty ballplayer, the noble sultan of swing-CHRIS COGHLAN himself, finally, made his appearance. 

The first thing he said to me, you ask??

“You gonna give me my ball or what?”

Are you kidding me? 
I think this kid needs to go back to that rookie orientation camp where players get taught how to handle the media and the fans.

He half-heartedly posed for this picture…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 068.jpg…I’m not asking to be your best friend.  Just act like you give a crap. 

What’s that thing he’s doing with his mouth??

He grabbed his home run ball and stormed off without saying a word.  Then, he turned back toward me and said, “why y’all gotta hold my home run ball for ransom?”

Excuse me?

Asking for two (2) bats, getting turned down, agreeing to one (1) bat and some tickets that I’ll never see is holding a ball for ransom? 

You have to be kidding, pal.

I told him asking for two (2) bats is not unreasonable and that I work an honest job for a living.
His response?

“Good for you.”

The classy comments just keep coming.

Apparently, the AP interviewed Mr. Coghlan about the ordeal.  He told them, “the guy told me he travels around and catches home run balls and holds them for ransom.  He really didn’t say that, but it seems that way.”

Huh?  Your credibility just went right out the window, sir.

I guess I just don’t get it.

After giving my contact information to Dr. Jeffrey Fishbein for the Marlins/Brewers tickets that I’ll never see, my friend and I left the stadium.

According to the Miami Herald,

Coghlan said the man demanded an autographed baseball by Coghlan, a
personalized Coghlan bat, an autographed Ramirez bat and — to top it
all off — tickets to the Yankees/Marlins series in South Florida in
June. He also wanted his photograph taken with Coghlan.  If he had been more respectful about it, I would have given him anything he wanted, Coghlan said.

Now, let’s go back to my original question: 

WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE THE FAN THAT CAUGHT YOUR FIRST CAREER HOME RUN BALL??

Would you act thankful?  Would two (2) bats be asking too much? 

Major League Baseball is a multi-billion dollar industry.
C’mon…get real.

It still amazes me how many professional athlete apologists are out there. 
Pro athletes can say whatever they want and the fans will believe them.  If a fan dares to stand up for himself, people bash him up and down. 

Still not convinced?

CLICK HERE for the interview in my own words.
Take the 10 minutes to listen to it-then comment.

I must warn you in advance, if you resort to name-calling or threats, additional measures will be taken and your comments will be investigated/reported/deleted.

You can comment on this topic without lowering yourself to such measures.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 12 total balls 5/13/09

7 batted balls (3 caught on fly)
(1 game home run caught on fly-CHRIS COGHLAN)

5 toss-up balls

ATTENDANCE:  32,825

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
___________________

137 baseballs (18 games)
7.61 average per game

175 Comments

There’s no WAY I’m missing this one, but take your time. We’ll all be here when it’s ready…

Saw your catch on Sportscenter! Congrats dude!

Saw you on SportsCenter. Congrats

HOWIE

Hey Happy nice catch. I can’t believe they just offered 2 baseballs for a first career Homer. That doesn’t account for much of what that ball is really worth. Nice to see someone driving a hard bargain, not like it cost Coghlan anything to give you something of equal value to a career 1st.

Well. I’ll be back to read it.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

DUN DUN DUN…

sorry to hear about all this bologna headhunting stuff…hahah but i’m excited to read your thoughts on the situation!

-Crystal

Hahahaha, good stuff. I read all about it, AP has you covered! Again, I don’t know how you do it!

EVERYONE WHO’S QUICK TO CRITICIZE:

Ever hear the saying, “there’s two sides to every story?
It amazes me how many professional athlete apologists there are. It also amazes me how people are so quick to judge another. Even if you don’t really care about my side to the story, reserve your negative comments until the real story is told.
At that time, all comments-both negative and positive will be left up.

And people wonder why professional athletes don’t speak to the media.

“Happy”

ENNISMOORE–
If you think he sucks so much, why don’t you show up at the ballpark & tell him face to face you spineless @$$hole.

Happy,

C’mon, leave the glove at home! Nobody over the age of 12 should take a glove to a ballpark. Only homers and foul balls should count in your total.

Thanks,
Donald

Happy, I almost spilled my beer when I read this story:http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/45025552.html?page=2&c=y

I don’t blame you at all. Good job for not backing down. If that ***** wants his homer so much he better pony up. Congrats!!

Nice catch Happy… can’t wait to read all about it.

So when are you actually gonna give us your side? I don’t think its so much pro athlete apologists. But people don’t like people who seemingly want the world when they have done nothing. Coghlan has worked years to get himself to this point. And you just caught a ball hit out of the stands. And on tv you were quoted already wanting Hanley stuff. And looking at your pics you seem to be enough like those autograph hounds that’ll do about everything to get what they want. Outfitting yourself in Marlins gear at a Brewers game? For someone who says they are the biggest Brewers fan, your allegiance to the team seems to go bye bye if you could earn an extra buck, or get something signed.

Hey, I heard Trevor’s eighth save today and I almost cried. I miss that dude so much, but I’m glad he’s on a winning team. If he was here, he would be so miserable! Can’t wait to see some pictures, and hear about this amazing catch!
http://kaybee.mlblogs.com

Let’s just thank the good ole media of blowing it up. It may have sounded like he went to far and yet again it doesn’t. The story doesn’t bode well for both sides. For all the trolls, if you razz Happy, head on over to Mr. Hample’s blog and give him some s%&* too, because he does the same thing and he’s pretty good at it too. Some people have hobbies — like being jerks and some people snag baseballs.

http://nwest33.mlblogs.com

First “Bertado”, I am 13, I bring a glove, are you gonna tell me to leave it at home?
Okay now “Pitch Person” and “Mjguisin”, who do you think you are? Obviously this is the first you’ve heard of this guy, and you only listen to the biased media reports against him. You say he’ll do whatever he wants and is just like those autograph hounds. I also dress up in opposing team gear. Say something to me? He’s not gonna sell any of the stuff he gets. He keeps it, or he gives balls away to kids who try. They don’t ask, he isn’t forced, he does it for himself. And in case you couldn’t comprehend it, he ended up giving it back. It is called NEGOTIATION and a baseball lover can’t want something in return from his favorite player of that team for a ball? Listen, he’s not saying “GIVE ME SEASON TICKETS BEHIND HOME PLATE,” he’s asking. And look at this: “Coghlan said the man demanded an autographed baseball by Coghlan” Demanded? Not asked? A signed ball is too much? A picture is too much? A signed bat is too much? It’s not losing that much. Happy earned that ball. He sat in those seats, he did that amazing catch, and I would like to see a group of people inside Dolphin Stadium pronounce that guys name. Stop listening to biased opinoins. Wait until he tells you, and don’t harass him, he is working on it. IN CASE you didn’t realize, he’s not crushing babies to get balls. Okay?
Alex

From what I’ve read so far this is just sad, sad, sad. I’m willing to hear Happy’s side here, but the AP story did not leave me hopeful that there was any decency on anyone’s part.

This is hilarious. Look out everyone the Balllllll Hawk is coming. Bush League. Let the kids catch the foul balls dude.

Happy, you know that Glock 27 that you own? That is the preferred off duty carry gun up here. With all these haters out there I would suggest a discreet fanny pack with the piece, some cuffs, and maybe a small canister of Freeze +P for upcoming tilts.
It is unbelieveable that people would get worked up about this. I have your back.
-Big Glove Bob

Alex, I have been going to Brewers game for about 20 years now. Me and plenty of others have been attending Brewers game and have seen this guy at the ballpark since before you were born so who are you to question anyone who we think they are.

As for the media, they tend to wanna dig up more dirt on players than wanna save/protect them. It was not a pro athlete bias. Its more a bias against the “why the heck does someone who practically did nothing now feel so entitled” Coghlan has worked a bunch of his life to get to that point. And Youngster is QUOTED on tv that he wanted Hanley stuff in return. So for catching a current nobodies first HR ball he wanted a signed bat of a potential HOF’er which would more than likely be worth a $1000 or so. If he asked for Coghlan gear/bats/autographs and such he’d not be getting as much grief as he is now.

Youngster may not be crushing babies, but go look at his “The Catch” youtube video. Didn’t seem like he cared the most for the suntanning lady did he? His knee only missed her by a few inches, she moves any and it don’t look good.

And my words of advice Alex, don’t say you are 13, at this point of your life it does more against you than it could do for you.

Can’t wait to read your post. Heard your podcast on the radio. Good stuff.

Greg
Red Sox Ramblings: http://thevendahhh.mlblogs.com

Can’t believe some of the responses I’m seeing. Once you secured that ball, it was yours to cherish. If Coghlan wanted it to cherish instead, damn straight he needs to do something for you that will outweigh your desire to keep that ball for yourself. Anything less than that and you’d be a patsy. And no, just to break it to everyone, a Coghlan game-used bat on its own isn’t really all that enticing. Don’t back down, you’re about as REAL as it comes for Brewers fandom and general baseball fandom. Anyone who says otherwise needs a firm roundhouse kick….

“Once you secured that ball, it was yours to cherish. If Coghlan wanted it to cherish instead, damn straight he needs to do something for you that will outweigh your desire to keep that ball for yourself.”

Happy has like 48 other balls to cherish…not to mention the two they were willing to offer him in exchange. Coghlan will only hit his first home run once in his life. Happy is an extortionist – plain and simple.

look, it’s not that complicated.

This guy liked baseball more than any of you idiots saying he needs to grow up. This is his (and my) passion. Just like you dolts have a favorite thing to do, his (and mine, and many other people) like to catch balls. And frankly, we don’t care if you stay at home and criticize us, that’s just more baseballs for us.

Hew caught the homer, it’s HIS baseballs. He has NO obligation to give the ball back at ALL. His requests are a ball, a bat, and tickets to a Marlins/Brewers game. If anyone looks foolish, it’s the Marlin’s front office. They’re too cheep to make their own players happy.

You people pretending that you’re better people than Happy need to get lives and hobbies, because criticizing someone who actually has fun doing something they love is most certainly not a hobby.

I feel obligated to comment on the poster with the comment left two above this one. WHO, the FOCK do you think you are talking crap about someones family on here? You may not agree with Happys’ tactics but you have NO right talking smack about his family. For that, you mindless C**T, I would love to live up to my screen name. Go play with your own balls,….first grow a set so I can stuff em down your throat -Punk

all you people threatening bodily harm, all I have to say is although Happy is a cop and won’t stoop to your level, I welcome you to try to jump him. If I see you, I’m NOT a cop and have no issues throwing down. Happy is a good man and a great ballhawk.

Happy….

You’ve left out the most important part of this story. It’s something I HAVE TO KNOW. How did Dino do? Did he get any balls? Did he drop any with his new glove? Don’t leave us hanging like this.

Padreleigh

Happy, in your recap of the night, you lavishly quote word for word all the Marlins staffs’ responses to you but you conveniently forget to directly quote yourself. I’m sure if you supplied us with your exact words to the Marlins staff, the tone of your story would be greatly different. And in the picture that show Mr. Sewell, the only person that looks heated is you. You story did little to change my mind, and I still confidently feel that you have no class and are not a true fan of baseball. (Also, little known fact: baseballs hit into the stands are still the property of MLB even if a fan retrieves, so the ball really isn’t yours to begin with. You’re just lucky that MLB is nice enough to let you keep the ball and barter with it.)

Also, you need to correct your article. The ball was not for Coghlan’s personal collection. The ball was actually for his mother as a gift of appreciation. I know this fact makes you seem like a worse person, but you gotta be accurate here.

Happy,
I don’t think your request was unreasonable at all. I really don’t. Balls that land in the stands are not the property of MLB, they are the fan’s property. I would have probably made a similar request. Coghlan is a nobody, while having a game used bat from the guy inscribed is cool, it isn’t really worth a whole heck of a lot. I honestly don’t think you asked for too much. This thing got blown way out of proportion. After they started being jerks about it, I would have been real tempted to tell them to go F themselves and head home with the ball.

and who knew the only hobbies one could have would be to collect baseballs or break the law by killing people or selling drugs? Now I know!

gator32301,
Hey Tallahassee **** Troll!
Go post your BS on the AA league boards. This board is for Major Leaguers. Your comments do not enhance the debate at hand. You ever had your *** kicked by a midget wearing an idiotic T-shirt? No? Hows bout I bring my BIG *** down there, broomstick ya, while wearing an even more idiotic T-shirt? Dino can make the video for youtube as I giggle like a schoolgirl. You can call it my hobby-Gator on a stick

Happy, you were not out of line here, not in the least. Two bats?? It’s not like he has to purchase those bats. This Chris Coghlan is off to a great start as a pro athlete. The dude is already disrespecting fans. They totally blew the way they handled this brotha. It was them that wanted the ball, you weren’t out trying to sell it. Accusing you of ball swapping after asking you for the ball, that’s wrong on so many levels.
Show em Happy, show em they F’ked with the wrong ballhawk…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

so, to be clear, you using a broomstick on a man would make you giggle like a schoolgirl?

Dude, of course he was out of line. He’s a fan in a major league baseball stadium. He should be happy he walked out of there with any game memorabilia other than a ball. Huh, “happy.” More like greedy.

I don’t know what else to say, Happy. You already know how I feel about the whole thing. I guess, just remember that all these negative people weren’t on here before all of this, & they’ll all fade away once this is all said and done. And those of us that DO believe in you, will still be here just like always. Keep snaggin’!
Brian

Seems like you did a good job documenting your story. The media here in Miami is giving you such a bad rap over a couple of signed bats. Maybe you can get and post your interview with Craig Minervini of Sun sports. I would definitely like to see that interview. I’m also surprised you just didn’t leave with the ball.

Here’s where I found your story on NBC6, which labeled you a ‘Homer-Hostage Taker': http://www.nbcmiami.com/sports/baseball/marlins/Marlin-Becomes-Victim-of-the-Homerun-Hostage-Taker.html

Glad to hear your side of the story. Much more convincing, too bad you had the other ball in your hand, probably would’ve saved you some grief. After all I that I would claim that you gave him the other ball in your hand ;) Maybe the Marlin media peeps should stop worrying about a ball and focus on their sinking baseball team. Pi$$ on arrogant MLB players.

You say that Craig Minervini was “the only respectful Marlins employee in this whole ordeal” but your own post also indicates that bullpen coach Steve Foster was extremely respectful in his interactions with you. Maybe you should change your post to reflect that.

It seems evident from the pictures that you had taken with him that the reason you are so enamored of Minervini is that he put you in the spotlight (however small a spotlight it actually is) by making you the subject of an interview, thus feeding that massive ego you’re toting around. Seriously, try taking a picture that DOESN’T prominently feature yourself in it every now and then.

Also, can you explain what the Marlins’ justification for not giving you the Ramirez bat was? The noticeable lack of detail regarding their explanation makes me suspect that they had a very good, reasonable one, and you just prefer not to acknowledge/admit it.

It’s a shame that they accused you of switching the balls but frankly, given your general approach to this whole “ballhawking” subculture, I wouldn’t put you above doing exactly that. Your goal is to give yourself every advantage in pursuit of the best possible paraphernalia, right? If you’re willing to lie about being a Marlins fan in order to get a better souvenir, why wouldn’t you be willing to lie about which ball was the homerun ball in order to keep a better souvenir? After all, come on people “it’s [your] hobby.”

Finally, in answer to your hypothetical question: Yes, squeezing an organization for exactly what a rookie player’s first homerun ball is worth to him might be justifiable in the context of pure economics. But on a human level, that still doesn’t make it a decent thing to do.

Happy I’m glad you found something you are passionate about, something you truly enjoy. That being said I think the enjoyment of your hobby comes in catching the ball, the simply joy of knowing that a few seconds before the ball hit your glove it was part of a major league baseball game. I can see why you love what you do, but realize the impact you have on other “diehard” Brewers fans. We all get a bad reputation for this whether you think it’s right or not. Are you the most diehard Brewer fan? Or just a fan of catching that little white ball as many times as you can? Enjoy the game, if you catch a ball that’s great, it’s fun, it makes you happy – but that’s the end of it. Does the enjoyment really come in trying to squeeze out a couple of bats for the ball – do you really need that? Catch the ball, if it means something to a young player toss it his way and enjoy your next catch. If you have to compare your hobby to selling drugs I think you’ve said all you need to say. If filling your house with as many baseballs as you can no matter who’s they are that’s fine – but diehard Brewers fan? We all know the answer to that. Lets go Brew Crew! Happy you make me sad.

NY

You made a reasonable request. Cosidering the millions of dollars these guys make, two autographed bats were reasonable.

After all of that crap, you should have kepted it. I bet they don’t come through on the tickets.

Good luck

jk
451

Marvelous entry. Beautifully told and written. I want to go to that Marlins/Yankees series so I can root for BOTH teams to lose. I mean, seriously, the way you got treated here is disgusting. Shame on the Marlins. It’s unbelievable that they have a bunch of jerks working for them. I’m so angry about this whole thing. I hope Coghlan fizzles out and that his precious ball gets eaten by his dog. You were not out of line at all. Everything you asked for was TEXTBOOK. You have a wonderful hobby and an even better life…an honorable profession and a fantastic family. You are someone we should all respect and admire. Ignore the haters. Keep doing your thing.

Happy -Congrats on the catch! Being one that has caught at least 10 milestone home runs for players I understand every aspect of this ordeal. Askin for 2 bats is in no way out of the ordinary for accomplished Ballhawks. In fact your requests might have cost the team a total of $300 if you factor in the bats at cost and tickets to an EMPTY stadium in Miami.Ok so now what to do about Mr. Coghlan ………. I can tell you for sure he will be heckled in LA and I definitely want a Happy Youngster T-Shirt to wear when they come to town! It’s simply ridiculous that teams will constantly try to do this to fans. So maybe the solution is putting a “Happy Youngster Jinx” on this clown (similar to the Hample Jinx). When I caught Dante Bichette’s 1st Major League Home Run I was given a bat and a ball signed by Bichette and that was all I asked for. He asked are you sure you don’t want anything else? When I caught Bob Boone’s 100th career home run I asked for the same thing and was again asked if there was anything else I wanted so I got a ball for a friend that was with me. When I caught Dave Winfields 450th home run I asked for a bat and a ball and was given a bat, 2 signed balls, had him sign 3 baseball cards and he gave me his wristbands as well. My favorite was the Last Roof Top HR at Old Comiskey Park. Ron Kittle hit it and I just happen to be leaving Comiskey to go home and watch a game in Anaheim to see if any friends got HR’s. As I am going around the park to head out the announcer says that he can’t believe Kittle just cleared the roof. I drove around and found the ball in Armour Square Park. I went to the Sox offices to return the ball. They let me go to the clubhouse door to give it to Kittle (a family friend at this point). He opened the door and said “YOU GOT IT??” I said “Yeah!” He told me “You ain’t getting nothin for it!” Then he shut the door, 2 seconds later the door opened and he had that crooked smile and happily gave me a Bat for the ball and signed it. The bummer on that ball is that it is in the White Sox Hall Of Fame but I get no credit for returning it! The thing is all of these guys are players that were pretty big names when they played and they were cool about giving up thngs and even asked if that was all I wanted. Then you have a guy like Coghlan that is going to cry like a little girl because you ask for tickets and 2 bats. I guess it’s fair, they get paid ridiculous salaries to play a kids game and it’s all good. We go after a few balls like kids and ultimately we are the bad people.Sorry for the little rant at the end but those of us that are essentially professional “Ballhawks” know the rules, we give balls to kids and we simply ask for what is fair in return of a milestone ball. May Chris Coghlan find himself in the Minor Leagues before the 1st of June and may he never hit another home run!!JohnMajor League Ballhawkhttp://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

yeah, i’m sure coghlan will be distracted by the one’s of people “heckling” him in LA.

A message to manheuser@gmail.com

As a season ticket holder the last few years I have shared the same section that Happy’s seats are in. I have come to know him and his family. You criticize for not “sharing the wealth”… I can tell you that I honestly can’t remember a game I attended where Happy DID NOT give a ball or multiples of balls to some kids, whether it was one of my own or even one of their friends who had attended that had not got a ball. Don’t criticize for something you don’t know anything about. Just because he doesn’t publicize every ball he gives away doesn’t mean he doesn’t give them away. Guess what he collects them like many others all over the country… so no he doesn’t give them all away, but he also doesn’t knock your kid over to take it away from him, like MOST of them do. Have to say two bats is not an unreasonable request for a 1st career homerun ball, which by the way… was Happy’s to keep if he wanted it.

Oh…Can we change the throw back ball to MARLINS SUCK now??? COME ON!!!!!!!!! LOL.

Jeff

Probably not but it will make BP a little more entertaining! This entire thing is ridiculous. Ballhawks take crap for getting baseballs and that we should let the kids get the balls. If a kid tried to catch some of the line drives I have caught they might be in the hospital. More than that any cute kid can ask a player for a ball and most likely at some point during a BP session they will get one. For us on the other hand we have to work for them and actually catch them or be creative (ie glove trick) to get them.We are passionate in chasing baseballs, we are bigger baseball fans than most people. We know the game and have found a way to become part of the game. Now at least 2 of us Ballhawks, Zack Hample and myself are raising money for charity through our Ballhawking http://mlballhawk.com/Baseballs_4_MADD.html It’s just one of those things I guess, some people will think what we do is cool and others will hate us. Thankfully we all live in America where we have these choices!!JohnMajor League Ballhawkhttp://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

One more thing ……….. for the guy that said the ball is the property of MLB even after it is hit into the stands:100% false ……… as stated at the beginning of every game at every park ……….. “Fans are welcome to keep ANY ball hit into the stands” ……….. that is MLB and both teams giving up any claim of “ANY ball hit into the stands” belonging to them!

There are always –>TWO

Shawn

http://realtalk.mlblogs.com

Exactly, there are always –>TWO

Shawn

http://RealTalk.Mlblogs.com

Awesome. It wont let me put up my complete comment. I love that.

Shawn

i have no problem with going after baseballs in the stand…but thinking that you are entitled to something for it’s return or that there is some sort of established rate of return for “accomplished ballhawks” is absurd.

also, “ballhawks” are not part of the game…the game goes on with no variance regardless of who, if anyone, catches a HR or foul ball.

When they started questioning your integrity about switching out balls, you just should’ve walked. Their arrogance and sense of entitlement led them to believe they were doing you a favor, which is obviously not true. I don’t think you were asking for too much initially, and frankly, I’m a bit dissapointed you let yourself get pushed around. I don’t understand…what was the difficulty in getting Hanley Ramirez to give up a bat?

Happy & Others –

As a Marlins fan, I have read or saw most of the interviews and stories about the situation. My perspective, removing my Marlins’ fan bias here, is that you were slightly in the wrong.

While I do agree with others that say that the ball is yours to keep if you wish, and also others that say that ballhawking might not be the most admirable of hobbies (though a fun-sounding one), I think that in the end, you have to recognize that no matter what you think the “ball is worth,” it will always be worth more to his mother (that is who he wanted it for). I think that you lost sight of being a reasonable human being in your “negotiations.”

I put negotiations in parentheses because you state that you requested 2 bats, a ball, and pictures. You don’t request in a negotiation, you ask for, and then you compromise. Moreover, I understand the Marlins’ suspicion. When they first let you return to your seat, that was probably before they realized who you were and that you had so many options to switch it out with.

Finally, Coghlan was a minor leaguer 2 weeks ago with very few chances of being called up before September. He isn’t making millions, as many on this team aren’t. Players are allocated bats each year, and in the case of the minors, teams are allocated bats. If they go over that, they pay, and in the minors they don’t have much to pay with. Most likely, he will be back down there on Saturday when Andrew Miller is activated and its back to buses instead of planes, host families, no frills clubhouses, little pay (a lot less than you make as a police officer), and a small allocation of tools.

You had the opportunity to be a grown up, mature, respectful, and give somebody something that would give them a far greater deal of happiness than it would give you. While you started off being reasonable in the situation, I think it quickly changed when you didn’t get instant satisfaction after the game, and I think that is sad.

Happy, you are waaaaay too nice. I would have wanted more, and once I found out what a JERK Coghlan was, I would have just given him my phone number and walked out. Since when do the fans “owe” the players anything? We pay their outrageous salaries. I’m sure Coghlan is just used to just walking all over people and couldn’t believe someone was actually standing up to him. It’s called NEGOTIATING people!!! Btw, nice attempt at throwing home from left field, Coghlan. WEAK!!

I love how this guy calls himself a fan. He goes to Brewers games decked out in other team’s gear just to collect baseballs. As others have already stated, if this guy was an actual fan, he would have realized the relevance of the ball to the player and should have been satisfied getting anything in return. He’s not entitled to anything. It’s true that the ball became his property once he caught it, and is free to do with it as he wishes, but if he was really a fan and understood the game, then he would have more readily given up the ball to a kid getting maybe his only shot at the bigs.

ughhh…another young tool bag? whats with these kids thinking that theyre hot $h!+ once they make it to the majors. two bats is completely reasonable and hanley should be ashamed of himself that he wouldnt give a bat for a team mate to get his first home run ball back.

everyone needs to take a lesson from pat neshek on being nice and fan-friendly.

good going happy! and nice job coming up with some tickets at least. maybe you can catch a first home run ball down there from a player with class

-Jon
http://nycautographcollector.mlblogs.com/

HY,

I sided with you in the Geoff Jenkins flap, but this is different. Do you have the right to ask for the moon? Absolutely. SHOULD you? Absolutely not. Coghlan is just some scrub who might end up having a cup of coffee in the majors. Put yourself in his place. The years and years of dreaming about making it to the bigs, the hard work, the luck factor. It means way more to him than you. Just do the decent thing and hand it over for nothing. What if you found the wallet of a rich guy? Would you say, “Hey, you make a mill a year and I only make 50k. If you want all your IDs and cards back it’ll cost you 20k to avoid the hassle of replacing everything.” I hope you wouldn’t. You’re not a kid anymore, so stop acting like one.

To John / baseballkid / the Professional Major League Ballhawk:
You say that stadiums say “Fans are welcome to keep ANY ball hit into the stands”. And I say again, Happy is lucky that MLB, the original owners of the ball, voluntarily give up their right to the balls hit out of the plan for the enjoyment of the fans.
Also, you recite several cases where you have caught milestone balls and have negotiated the ball’s return hassle-free. There’s a major difference between your experiences and Happy’s experience the other day….YOU NEVER GREEDILY ASKED FOR THE SIGNED GAME USED BAT OF A TOTALLY UNRELATED PLAYER TO THE SITUATION. You only asked things of the player directly involved. You should teach Happy this nifty little bargaining tool. Because by asking things from other players (and especially the star player) just seems rude and makes you look like you’re out to make a quick buck. When Happy did this, this was the point when the negotiations started to build animosity.

Bontu – Ok maybe you are right on my situations no being the same but to say that Happy was greedy is nuts. No matter why he asked for the Ramirez bat it shouldnt be that big of a deal. There have been many cases of 1st ML homers caught by other Ballhawks that asked for a bat from the little known rookie and then a bat of a better known player. These don’t ever get publicized because those players had no problem getting the 2nd bat. If people want to make the case of Happy being a bad person then so be it but how bad is it that a fellow teammate or the team itself can’t give up an extra bat and a few tickets to help one of their players out in getting something back to give his mom?? It goes both ways! In 1987 at my first Dodger game ever at Dodger stadium I grabbed Mike Schmidts 523rd HR. he wanted it back, I asked for a bat, the Phillies only wanted to give up an autographed ball. (Schmidt was keeping all balls after 500) I said NO and the DODGERS, not the PHILLIES, offered up tickets to some future games along with the ball that the Phillies were giving up.If you look at Nick as the bad guy here the Marlins are just as much to blame!

Happy – it sucks that a great day at the Ballpark turned into an such an issue…for all parties involved.

There are some points good and bad to be taken from even some of the most strongly worded comments here.

My take, for what its worth is that while you are entitled to enjoy your hobby and to have kept the ball, if you chose to, etc….why would you want to pursue something that was obviously spirallingout of control – potentially, possibly, landing you on the stadium blacklist and putting you in a weird light with your employers? Why risk it? I have friends on the force here in Canada and their personal , off duty actions, especially as they relate to the public at large are regarded as a reflection of their performance as a whole. Police, in my estimation should take a higher road, and try to calm instead of escalte situations; even isituations in which they may be 100% within their right to stir this up. I don’t expect cops to be perfect; I would hope they would take the higher road and step aside of fanning the flames of conflict.

It seems to me that your comments and intentions were surely garbled in translation and meaning by the time they reached the player, but when you realized that this had happened, could you not just have said “Chris, here’s your ball. I was hoping to also have a souvenir from you to take home. No problem, if this is an issue. Best of luck in your career”?

My .02 cents. chris

Alrighty Happy, lol
Great night, I was happy I was there to witness it and get my first homerun ball myself. I’m looking forward for the case for my ball. lol But I think you were very mature compared to the Marlins guy that said you shook on something???????!!!!! I was there to witness most of it then that event security guy came over and said he was going to knock out shawn and that you guys got kicked out. WTF is up with that? I hope you still enjoyed the game because I did. I will see you in the Cards series.

Ballhawk Casey…http://wardyhawk.mlblogs.com/

Thanks for giving me tips happy, It’s a great hobby. Everyone just needs to back off.

This is getting way out of hand. I think the entire Marlins organization needs to be jinxed.

Your arrogance is stunning. OK, so it appears that you actually do the right thing and give some of the balls you catch to kids at the park–good for you, that’s the right thing to do. That’s it for the praise dude. What is with the sense of entitlement that you and all your defenders seem to have? Wait, I know, that’s what America is today, the land of “I deserve. . . ” Not, “I earned . . . ” or “I worked hard for . . . ” but “I deserve …..” as in, “I deserve everything I can get from this young guy just because I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.”

Haven’t you ever been taught what it means to be a good person, to show some class and do the right thing? If I had ever caught a ball like this, I would have given it to the player for free. IF he felt like offering something in return, then great, I would gladly take it and would cherish it as a memento of that great moment. If, however, he just said, “thanks” and shook my hand, then I’d be totally fine with that too because I would know I had done the right thing.

Somewhere along the line, you and so many other fans have forgotten what it means to show some class and act like a decent person. You EXPECT to get something in return for any good deed–isn’t the good deed its own reward? You sure aren’t going to get rich off a Chris Coghlan bat or ball (although you just might make a fast buck off a Hanley Ramirez bat, eh? Imagine that.), so why not be happy with whatever Mr. Coghlan chose to give you, instead of trying to force the Marlins’ to give you more?

The part of your story that galls me the most is that, in your own recap of the events at that game, you mention that Coghlan ALREADY gave you a ball, tossing one up to you during pregame warm-ups. Ball #9, as I recall. I mean, let me get this straight: This kid was nice enough to throw you a ball before the game (when usually they look for kids to throw those balls to, but whatever, you’re a ballhawker), but once you couldn’t get your Hanley Ramirez bat, you don’t even hesitate to throw him under the bus and try to make him look like a bad guy? Are you freaking kidding me? Can you not see how low class this makes you look? If not, then perhaps you should examine the fundamental flaw in your personality.

I have no doubt that a lot of what happened resulted in things spinning out of control in the heat of the moment. The Marlins PR guy was out of line for saying you swapped the ball without having any proof of that, so I can see why that would upset you. I have no problem agreeing with that part of your story. However, it does appear that the folks involved right away tried to do the right thing, but that was before they knew about your demand for a Ramirez bat (the bullpen coach, for example–you never mentioned the Ramirez bat to him; that came later with the TV guy, and gee isn’t that convenient?). Asking for that bat is the thing that really puts you out of line here, IMO. I mean, please, justify to us why you think you deserved a Hanley Ramirez bat before you would give Coghlan his ball? You asked earlier if such a request was unreasonable, and despite all YOUR apologists, the answer to that question is clearly, “Yes, it is TOTALLY unreasonable.” He didn’t hit the ball, he wasn’t on base when it happened, he had nothing to do with the play. By telling Coghlan you wanted Hanley’s bat, you are essentially telling him, “Hey, you’re a nobody and I’m only asking for one of your bats to be polite, but wow, a Hanley Ramirez bat would be awesome.”

If you can’t step back from this story for even a moment and see how bad it makes you look, how unreasonable your behavior was, then I just feel sorry for you. And dude, what was the point of making sure you mentioned you were a cop? What does that have to do with anything when it came to this story? I mean, hey, you’re obviously a diehard baseball fan, and if want to make “ballhawking” your hobby, whatever (personally, I think it’s kind of ridiculous and that you should just leave the ballhawking to the kids, but that’s your choice). But man, grow up. Show some class. Stop thinking you deserve something just because you catch a stupid ball. Be the bigger man, be a good person–just give up the ball in the future. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you receive in return from players who respect the fact you didn’t ask for a king’s ransom in return.

One more comment for bigglovebob who posted up above: Dude, nice comment, telling him to start packing his off-duty gun in a fanny pack when he goes to the ballpark. Yeah, that’s just great advice–take your gun to the park because you just never know when you might have to whip it out and start capping people if they try to rag on you for catching balls, or worse, try to steal your balls. Way to add some gasoline to the fire, Bob.

Hey man I am totally down with you I cannot attend big league games in Rochester NY but I go out in the outfield area and pull in my fair share of minor league dingers and I also have great seats right behind home plate where I snag a good amount of foul balls. These idiots who are saying you are selfish and greedy are just that IDIOTS. Say this kid goes on and hits 500 in his career (granted I doubt it) just imagine how much that #1 would be worth. You freakin people who make you sound like a selfish jerk are crazy anyone of them put in your situation does the same exact thing and no 2 bats and a ball are not a lot to ask these guys typically carry 5-10 bats to each game. On top of that they are pulling in what I make in 5 years and I have a pretty respectable job. When he T’ed off on that meatball and you caught it you became entitled to anything you wanted I bet a classier guy like Pedroia or Jeter would have been more accepting of what you were asking. Then again being it would have been a larger market you would have probably gotten more. Ever in Rochester area look me up I will show you some good old AAA ball.

tigerfan4ever is a pretty smart person

Haha, so true, look at the end Happy’s few supporters’ comments. Youll see a link to their ballhawking blog, haha. The disturbed think alike.

MJGUISIN-
Apparently “the disturbed” DO think alike, you seem to have a real crowd of “winners” also.

From robertl:
“Say this kid goes on and hits 500 in his career (granted I doubt it) just imagine how much that #1 would be worth.”

See, you just don’t get it. Those of us who are just true fans and who have some class don’t CARE what that ball will be worth if he goes on to hit 500 home runs. Only greedy idiots like you care about that. For the rest of us, being a good person and doing the right thing matter more than worrying about the 1 in a million chance that some kid who just hit his first home run might go on to break the all-time record. Oh my, if only we’d have kept that first ball, how rich we’d be!

Unfortunately, there’s one HUGE gaping flaw in your little theory there about cashing in on that ball when the kid hits his 500th home run: See, all you clowns care about is extorting as much as you can from the player the night you catch the ball. How could you–or HY, or anyone–profit from the kid going on to hit 500 home runs BECAUSE YOU ALREADY GAVE HIM THE BALL THE NIGHT HE HIT IT. Do you see now just how stupid your little comment was? It’s kind of funny, actually–now I get to think about you and HY and your ilk sitting in your trailer 30 years from now cursing the fact that you gave up the new home run champ’s first home run ball for 2 bats. Now THAT is funny!

I feel that he probably should have not asked for a Hanely Ramirez bat. But, all of you who are personally attacking ballhawks and the man in general for one of his passions must feel no passion toward anything in life. The guy is a family man, a father, a hard working public servant and a partial season ticketholder for the Brewers. He has gone to more games, paid more money to support his team, then probably ALL of you combined so you need to step off. Batted balls are property of the person who caught it. He can do whatever the hell he wants with it. You don’t have to like it, but you cannot just attack someone and called them personally derogatory names. All of you talking haven’t even caught a home run or a ball because you sit at the ball park drinking your beer and acting like complete ********. Go hit the gym, pump those guns, yell at the top of your lungs and go get laid by your former cheerleader wife who is now fat and hideous because she cannot get out of bed from eating. PS, all you haters, eat a dick.

I just found this site thanks to the link on http://www.mlbtraderumors.com. I emailed the Florida Marlins and stated that Chris Coglhan should apologize on camera for his behavior. I also stated that if he couldn’t hit a ball, he does not look as if he has the intellect to hold down a busboy’s job at Dennys. When I was younger, I too used to go to BP and try to snag balls at Yankee Stadium. I finally got a rebounded Dave Winfield. This is a great hobby! Good luck and do not let the naysayers in the comments section dissuade you.

TXBASBALLFAN:

You MUST be one of the ballhawks or autograph hounds, lol. Yes, we are winners, we value human decency and morality over greed and selfishness. A group I’m proud to belong. Get a life.

That sucks!!! Good luck on all that comes of it! Marlins suck to me anyway but that’s my opinion. I get tired of people being so horrible and cocky! Especially the arrogance and acting like you’re so much better than us “regular folk”!!! Um hello, if not for fans you’d have nothing! Not to mention kids look up to you people! Lets set a good example and be good role models! Send that punk down to minors then bounce him! Your requests were totally reasonable and fine. Next time, tell em if they want the ball they can bid on it on ebay!

Just want to throw down some support for Happy. The level of negativity is mind-boggling from these people. I personally wouldn’t have asked for the bat of another player or tickets, a bat from ANY major leaguer would be sweet! However, I don’t see why getting a Hanley Ramirez bat was such a big deal to the Marlin’s, I think it would actually be pretty funny! The raw rook humbly asking the established star for help to get his ball back…. would give the team a **** ton of razzing ammo!

Anyways, all the personal attacks are WAY out of line. The fact is, ballhawks like Happy don’t really contribute anything negative, except in your perceptions. They don’t stop other kids from getting balls, they are just proactive in getting their own, because they like to. They give balls to kids that would probably never get one on their own. It may be a wierd hobby, but it ISN’T like selling drugs or beating your wife or anything like that, and Happy clearly used that analogy because look at you people!!!!! you are degrading him like he actually did one of those things!!!!

Look, there are bad apples. I’m sure there are ballhawks that trample kids and are rude and never give kids balls. To lump Happy in with these types is unfair.

Incredibly ignorant and judgmental people posting comments here, and I do hope they all go away when this blows over.

MJGUISIN-
I have a life. I have a 10 yr. old daughter that I take to the baseball games & we enjoy the games along with whatever
“souvenirs” we get while we are there. So thanks, I think I have a GREAT life!

Going to games and catching balls is one thing. But wearing different team hats to get thrown balls is dishonest and low class. And then exploiting and taking advantage of a young players desire for his first home run ball is disturbing. Poor judgement. The fact that you cannot see the immorality in that show the gross culture of you so-called “ballhawks”. Go have fun, more power to you, just try and bring human decency and ethics with you.

sure it is dishonest, you are representing your self as a fan of a team you are not a fan of. but what’s the result of that dishonesty? a multi-millionaire parts with a 40 cent baseball. the life of the millionaire remains unchanged and the “dishonest one” gets a rush. who the **** really cares?????

DUDE THEY JUST HAD THIS ON PTI…AND KORNHEISER AND LEBATARD BOTH SIDED WITH YOU…AND AS WE ALL KNOW AS A CULTURE WHAT THEY SAY IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT…but seriously, PTI! thats awesome man, and “holding it for ransom” is just rediculous. thats how things work, you catch the guys first homerun, you get stuff, and the Marlins should be embarrassed they couldnt give you a bat from hanley. again, shame on hanley, shame on the marlins. it sucks too, because Fredi Gonzalez is a very classy guy. Oh well.

-Jon

Hey, Youngster –
Don’t microwave that thing! Actually, Torii Hunter does it…

I love how you guys think it’s funny to make up bogus emails, just to leave negative comments on someone’s blog that you have never met, & have only heard about 2nd hand. Yeah you’re right, he’s not classy you are. Whatever.

By far everyone is either for or against Mr. Happy…read this – http://bleacherreport.com/articles/175964-the-ballhawking-hobby-is-it-fair-to-sell-back-a-milestone-ball and you may think twice, because neither one of us were in his position so our say is irrelevant. Name callers and trolls, you’re just as bad as you make Happy out to be.

its his first major league hr just give him the damn ball. why should you profit off his achievement! you say mlb is greedy, your doing a preety good job yourself.

How am I a clueless clown (I’ll ignore the name-calling once)? Have you met him? And if so, do you rip everyone you meet? You must have one hell of a circle of friends.

Here’s from my blog (blogsandivy.mlblogs.com)

Talk about a buzz kill.

After Florida Marlins rookie Chris Coghlan jacked his first career homerun Wednesday night, the unexpected happened.

A greedy fan with an even bigger ego deemed it necessary to steal the spotlight from the promising young major league star. Known as the “Happy Youngster,” or as I would like to call him, the “Greedy Needy,” a law enforcement official caught Coghlan’s homerun ball and later auctioned it off for signed memorabilia, future tickets and a picture for safekeeping.

And, for good measure, the man even informed Coghlan of the specific inscription he wanted written on the piece of lumber.

Here’s what I would have wrote: “Thanks for the hospitality, jackass. Yours truly, Chris Coghlan.”

This story may not come as a complete surprise, but it certainly is unsettling to say the least.

Put yourself in Coghlan’s shoes. After years in the minor leagues, you finally get your shot at the big show (thank you, Dan Uggla). It was a struggle to achieve your dream, but well worth the wait. After going 0-fer the previous game, you really want to show your teammates and coaches you truly deserve a spot on the big league roster. With one swing of the bat, another dream comes true. As you round the bases, you wonder if you will ever get that feeling back again.

Despite the team’s eventual loss, that homerun ball symbolizes your acceptance into a rare fraternity. It is your rite of passage into major league baseball.

Bummed and excited at the same time, you track down the ball and fully expect to be congratulated by the fan that caught the personally historic ball. Instead, you are rudely greeted and exploited by a ball hawk with an agenda. Blindsided, you have no alternative but to give into the man’s requests for your own achievement.

What a pathetic display of respect, especially coming from a public official.

Baseball prides itself on preserving history and so should the fans. Catch a meaningful ball; give it back to its rightful owner. As fans, it is easy to disregard a home run here or there. After all, it is just a game. But for some, like Coghlan, baseball is more than just a game. It is a dream turned into a reality.

Dude, you should have stood firm on your requests. Why let these guys give you what they want to give you? Maybe someone on the Marlins realized you had worn the FLA hat during BP only to get extra balls, and this was their way of sticking it to you.

As for the tickets, you could get those just by walking up and dishing out $10 on game day. Maybe if you asked for tickets to a major rivalry game it’d be a problem, but this is the Marlins we’re talking about, their tickets aren’t in high demand. And its tickets to a game in Miami? Count your lucky stars if you don’t get the tickets.

Final tally- you getting one bat instead of two, you lose. You probably not getting the tickets to a Marlins home game, winner winner chicken parm dinner.

You do realize that getting balls from batting practice and such is for the kiddies, right?

Hey there HY read your story and I remember seeing you snagging homers in your early days. As I posted on the MLB brewers board if you caught the ball you now OWN it and are under no obligation to sell it or give it away. Therefore, just like selling any possession, you have the right to ask for anything you want—and if the buyer refuses, then they simply don’t receive it. Next time players bother you you should just tell them that. It’s your ball, and you can do with it whatever you want, which included asking whatver you want regardless of what it is.
Some people get on your case, but I don’t know why. You’re sort of a Milwaukee legend, and there’s not many people out there who care about baseball as much as you do. You’re a mega-fan, someone MLB should be proud of. What’s wrong with following something you love to do?

What is with all these people making fake accounts with the display names like “thehappyyoungster@gmail.com” or “happy@isadouche.com”? They are obviously outstanding members of the community. You catch a ball, it belongs to you. Dont be so quick to judge, either. Innocent until proven guilty.

Everyone keeps saying the ball belongs to you, and its your right to what you please with it. Nobody is refuting that, I agree. But in this circumstance its a dickmove, most people wouldve given that ball away for free, and been very happy with the bat. Thats the right thing to do. Thats all the critics are saying.

I agree with a lot of people. When the marlins staff started being disrespectful, you should have turned around and left with the ball.
At the moment he said:

” you gonna give me my ball or what?” I would have tossed that Marlins hat and returned home.

To me, it’s not worth it to return the ball to a disrespectful random who you know nothing about and who is not even one of your team’s rookies. I probably would have kept it.

MASV,

That’s the point. It shouldn’t have mattered to him who the player was that he was returning the ball to. He isn’t a Marlins fan. But if he’s a fan as he claims to be, he would recognize that this was a special moment to the kid and not looked to profit from it.

I agree TRUXFACTOR, and I probably would had returned the ball for free. However, even if someone would have liked to profit from it for whatever reason, I don’t think the Marlins staff and Coghlan should be disrespectful towards him for that, that’s the part that really annoys me, pro athletes should handle fans more prudently.

” You catch a ball, it belongs to you.”

WRONG!

I think your original requests were reasonable. Personally I would of asked for the tickets to the Brewers/ Marlins game in Florida instead of a Hanley Ramirez game bat. Today players are so ungrateful to people who are our age (25 to 50) who actually pay their salaries. It’s nice being good to kids, but WE support the game!

This is the first I am hearing about this, but I think you are wrong in the situation. I read your whole big post, very detailed. I think you had every right to request an autographed bat. I think Chris was probably a jerk to you. However, what did Hanley Ramirez have to do with you or your ball? Why, because HE is valuable? Please man, you would have relented because a Coghlan first home run is worthless, but an autographed game bat from Hanley is worth a hell of a lot more. You have a million balls; that ball had no value to anyone but Coghlan unless he becomes a star, and the likelihood of that is little. Only you could truthfully answer this, but if you were only looking for the Hanley bat to sell it you are a scumbag. I think if you were to have turned around and walked away from Coghlan you would have gotten both bats, but I don’t think it was right to try and scalp another teammate just because hes valuable. And if they were game used bats (you didn’t say this, only calling it “game bat,” you are even worse.)

You are also wrong that a ball you catch belongs to you. So, you work an honest job. Lets say you are a fireman. You go into a house, and you drop one of your gloves from your pocket. Does it belong to the first person to pick it up?

Oh, and being that old and still going to games to catch balls is kind of sad. I give you a lot of respect for giving some of the balls away, and I agree completely its better to do something like this then be a crack dealer, but I think those are apples and oranges.

And this is all based on only hearing your side. As a Yankee fan, I have bigger worries and am only hearing about this because of MLBTR.com. I will check back to see any responses. – JRuggiero2003@aol.com

All those balls you’ve retrieved and asked nothing for in return so you decide to make a rookie pay for your greed?

That’s not being a fan, that’s being a jerk.

I have to say, I was on your side before I read your explaination. However, after hearing what happened-in your own words, mind you-I admit my initial assessment was wrong. You WERE holding the ball for ransom, you WERE unreasonable, and you didn’t deserve anything in return for that baseball. Had I been in the stands that day, and knew what was going on, I would have just taken it from you and given it to the kid. You need to grow up and get a life.

PEOPLE!

“The Happy Youngster” doesn’t sell his memorabilia, but even if he did…so what? That would be his right. He has a huge collection — a true baseball shrine — in his basement. He cherishes all the items, and in fact he has even paid for some of them. He’s not trying to make a profit. He’s only trying to get items that are meaningful to him.

//He’s only trying to get items that are meaningful to him.//

That ball held a lot more meaning for the rookie than “The Happy Youngster” and “The Youngster” took advantage of that.

THAT is the issue people have.

It’s funny how some people talk so tough (Spring Training 2009 and others) but can’t man up to leave there real name or email address

If you have to resort to name-calling, why don’t you just go the hell away! No one wants you here anyway.

Who has the upper hand here, someone who has a hobby & enjoys it, or someone who has nothing better to do than talk bad about that person? Hmmm…. real mind-bender there.

Who has the upper hand here, someone who has a hobby & enjoys it, or someone who has nothing better to do than talk bad about that person? Hmmm…. real mind-bender there.

Who has the upper hand here, someone who has a hobby & enjoys it, or someone who has nothing better to do than talk bad about that person? Hmmm…. real mind-bender there.

“Who has the upper hand here, someone who has a hobby & enjoys it, or someone who has nothing better to do than talk bad about that person? Hmmm…. real mind-bender there.”

What about Geoff Jenkins Home Run ball txbaseballfan? That screams pathological, not a hobby. And btw, how about stop spamming your own blog so it looks like people like you. Cause they don’t.

I understand your position, but I also understand the Marlins. I think asking for an item from another player is kind of a slap in the face to the person you’re in negotiations with. It’s like saying, sorry sir but you’re not a good enough player, I need someone of more stature to provide me with items. But I do understand your point

What the hel is that supposed to mean? I haven’t done anything to my blog.

Why don’t you use your real email?

Hey, Happy.

I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. You had every right to ask for a couple of signed bats. Don’t baseball teams get those those things for FREE for god sakes? Keep your head up, Man. : )

I completely side with you, Happy… First time reader, so as an outside party entirely, sounds like the player is a punk but the media relations at Marlins camp are truly to blame.

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I’ve looked through all these comments. I’d like to say that I side with you, Nick. Catching baseballs at a game is a hobby (like collecting autographs) that I participate in, too. When you caught that ball it became yours because, as every (correct me if I’m wrong) baseball stadium announces, fans may keep any batted ball that enters the stands. The ball was yours and if you were a terrible person (like some of the posters on here say you are) you’d have kept the ball instead of giving it to Coghlan when the Marlins denied your requests. I don’t think that what you asked for was anything too abnormal… it’s not like you asked for cash or season tickets, just some memorabilia. By the way, I watched the video highlight and that was a pretty good catch, man. I’m sorry that this has all brought you so much negative attention, don’t let it get you down.
~Matt

A couple things first… As a grown man, please refrain from speaking about yourself in the third person. Only Ryan Seacrest does that. Number 2, never microwave a baseball glove, you are no Torii Hunter.
That aside, I am going to speak to you as a “baseball purist” as you claim yourself to be. For starters, baseball purists would never switch out baseballs- true fans, if they catch a home run from the opposing team they throw it back, not switch it out for some fifth grade antics. Especially using a team’s name that was not at the field that day. A baseball purist loves baseball. It’s that simple. It’s for the love of the game, not the love of what you “could have” from a young player that was just called up. In fact, consider it a slap in the face that you asked for a Hanley signed bat. That would be like that little girl you gave the ball to, saying “thank you” but she really would have preferred it from your friend Dino. I do not disagree in the fact that the baseball is yours, and no longer the property of MLB. But to ask for items in return? That is not a true baseball fan. And for those of you that say they owe us as fans because we pay ridiculous prices for games and merchandise, are you kidding me? What about paying to go to a baseball game to see…. well… a baseball game? If you have over 700 baseballs- what is this one baseball going to matter to you? It means everything to Coghlin’s mother. Asking for items in return because you happened to be in the right place to catch that ball is pure greed, and it is disgusting not only to fans but the fact that you call yourself a “baseball purist” To answer your question you keep asking because you obviously are trying to convince yourself- YES I think you were entirely in the wrong “negotiating” for items just because you caught that kids first home run ball. That is not being a baseball fan, that is being a greedy civilian acting as a baseball fan. The Marlins do not owe you anything for that baseball, as you do not owe them the baseball. You should have left it alone, now you have made both sides look pathetic. This is like you dropping your wallet and somebody behind you picking it up. They will give you your wallet back, but in return (2 slips of paper are presented) They would like you to buy them a newer wallet, ask for all the money in your wallet, and a copy of your drivers license, then on a second piece of paper ask for your friend’s wallet. Baseball is a game, not a negotiation.

Let’s think for a moment… Chris Coghlan’s agent is none other than Scott Boras, the shrewdest agent in the business. He has one goal and one goal only… to squeeze every dime out of ball clubs for his clients. Do you think that Boras just took whatever the Marlins offered him initially or was there some negotiations? I’m not saying that playing baseball is the same as catching a home run, but there is an obvious connection. Nick had something Coghlan wanted and in return he asked for a couple things that were well within the power of the Marlins organization to provide. Baseball players and their agents squeeze every dime they can get out of the ball clubs and it’s big news. Nick asks for some memorabilia and he’s the great white satan?

Nick, keep it up and dismiss the detractors.

Donny in Houston

I’ve got a few points to make. I am split on the situation.

Personally I think you need to have a little more respect to your badge that to even bring it up. You don’t need to mention that your a cop, in fact it takes away from your integrity. Did you see the cop that caught a home run ball at the Yankees game last week that gave the ball to a kid, immediately after catching it. I can tell you that gesture will give many more people a respect for the profession. I can’t remember if you mentioned the “cop” topic tonight, but you have mentioned it in the past…..even going so far as allowing Zack to pose as a gangster in your gear….that’s wrong.

Next, I think Ballhawking is a fun hobby and I don’t have a problem with it, but this case has less to do with your fun and more to do with the “demands” or “requests”, however you want to phrase it.

I’ve been an autograph collector, so it pains me to hear all of the negative comments toward such collectors. I admit that I did sell one baseball autograph and it makes me sick to think about it. On the same token, I don’t have a problem with those that do sell autographs, but I’d never buy one.

I’m on your side when it comes to “asking” for two bats, even a Hanley bat, and although you never mentioned it, I wonder if it would have mattered if Hanley personalized it, virtually preventing you from ever selling the bat. I think that he only balked at your request because it became a “demand” and not a request.

Now, to disagree with you. I’ve been in many situations with the nice players (Cole Hamels comes to mind) and the jerks (Tony Gwyn is burnt into my memory). I’d never DEMAND a gift from the player. I’d never be so ********** that I’d make the “I pay their salary comment”. It’s just wrong and does no good to go that direction.

To agree again. I doubt this guy ever intended to give the ball to his mother. That’s a sad argument and complete crap.

I think it’s very ironic that he gave you a ball before the game.

In conclusion, don’t be a jerk to the players. Have some compassion for the man. Be better a better man that him. Give the ball back and understand that the “moment” of catching the ball and the “moment” of personally giving the ball to him is much more important that ruining such a great “moment” with such a negative “moment” that occurred.

Bill

That’s too bad about the Ramirez bat. I might have just walked off with the ball without that bat just to spite them.

What’s your deal with all of the balls? What on Earth do you do with all of them? I’ve got about seven balls from BP in the past six years annd most of them make it to the backyard for catch. My first foul ball is in a case, but the few since then have been given to kids. One year I went to a couple of Texas League games real early just to get free practice balls for my little league team. Other than that, a ton of balls is utterly pointless.

Dude I understand your POV and where you’re coming from… And when you reason your thoughts on a nice little blog it sounds pretty convincing; however, two things:

Your reasoning about selling a baseball for a million bucks because it was the record breaking homerun ball obviously means more to the average baseball fan than a rookie’s (who has waited his share of time in the minors) first HR who you happen to catch.

That ball has the same value as the dozens that you hoarded before the game and during it…

Second…. I think It’d be alright to actually present yourself as as a fan of the player by asking to get your picture taken but by trying to extort all this extra stuff because you got lucky and caught his ball is pretty- well just lame man.

I’m pretty sure anyone, yourself included would be as a pissed as he was with the information he was getting from the relations about you demanding things.

Lots of people here that don’t believe in the free enterprise American way. Happy had something they wanted and they had something he wanted. They entered into a dialogue on what each was worth. It’s really a pretty simple concept.
Let’s not forget that Happy is a Brewers fan, not a Marlins fan. He has no allegiance to the Marlins at all. I am a big Twins fan. If a Twin hit a milestone ball, I would gladly give it back because I am a loyal fan. However, if an opposing player hits a milestone ball, I am going to have to get something for my troubles. If they don’t want to pony up, then screw em, I’ll leave with the ball. No skin off of my nose.
Is collecting baseballs a stupid hobby for a grown man to have? I guess it depends on your perspective. I dated a girl that collected turtle related stuff. My old man collects old newspapers, my mom collects these little German figurines. A lot of people collect things that others view as dumb or worthless. I say whatever trips your trigger as long as nobody is getting hurt in the process.
I personally am too loyal of a fan to soil the Metrodome with an opposing team’s gear. However, that is just me and I realize that if I pretended to be a fan of the other team I would get more balls.
I give very few balls away to kids because I don’t like kids. If a kid wants a ball, let them get their own. Kids are too spoiled now-a-days. I would think the big thing for a kid would be to get a ball from a major league ballplayer, not from some random fan with beer on his breath.
Some of the opposing thoughts on here are very well reasoned out and not at all incorrect if you happen to share their perspective. It is like politics in that respect.

All things have been said on both sides but I’ll throw this one out there.

Should the guy who caught Barry Bonds’ HR ball that broke Hank Aaron’s record have given that ball back to Barry? I am sure that meant just as much to Barry as this HR did to this rookie?

If the guy who had caught Bonds’ ball was a real fan, and not someone looking to make a buck, then I’m sure they would have given Barry back the ball with no objection if he had asked for it. As big of an *** as Bonds’ is perceived to be, I’m sure he would have offered something in return for the ball without the person who had caught it having to ask. At the very least, the Giants organiztion or MLB would have played up the fact the the ball was returned and taken care of the one who caught it.

To the poster earlier who said that he would expect to get something in return for his troubles, what troubles? All he did was catch a ball that went into the seats. He did nothing special and nothing worthy of being given special consideration. There was no trouble involved on his part at all. He was just in the right place at the right time.

And it is pretty lame that negative comments have been getting deleted for not agreeing with HY. Not everyone thinks what you did was special, and you have to appreciate everyone’s opinion, whether its agreeable or not.

What do you expect from the cheapest franchise in MLB?(despite winning two world series in just over a decade) To them, two baseball bats is like asking them for for the salary of a AA Ball minor leaguer.

I used to eat, drink, and live sports. But its importance in my life has become a just a passing interest over the last 5 or so years. From the top down, sporting franchises and their multi million dollar athletes that are only loyal to the top contract they can sign, over the team and the fans they play for, has exacerbated the growing rift between me, the once rabid fan, and the prima dona gifted athlete. Boyhood heroes have become untouchable, china dolls. What once was pure, has become premanufactured, highly controlled, almighty dollar driven. Sadly, to the point, whereby, a fan, paying hard earned money to attend a game that is not guaranteed to please, finds his small pleasure in catching balls in the bleachers, gets berated by not only the player, but the major league teams representatives. I, for one, enjoy watching the games on TV at home, where I can change the channel and go to the fridge at no extra expense. The days of sports getting my money are over, and I am not alone. All of my sports loving buddies rarely attend games any more. Instead, we throw BBQ’s with the families, and have the ballgames on in the background on large screen plasmas. It’s cheaper, less hassel, and a much more fan friendlier atmosphere. And to tell the truth, if suddenly, all the sporting franchises were to have to shut down one day, I, for one wouldn’t miss it. But the over paid players and owners would be in for a rude awakening, suddenly out of the lime light and having to live like JOE FAN who likes to catch homerun balls when he goes to the old ballpark, and business like, asks for a couple of signed bats in trade, for his effort.

The treatment MLB gave you was shameless. It is everywhere. Spoiled players and ungrateful employees. Keep it and get what you demand. That ball player scratched and clawed for his contract and would take the team to the mat for everything. Now, it’s on the other foot and he cries. They talk though with owners. Screw him. You should burn it and cut it up.

People seem to be confusing the question about whether you have the RIGHT to do what you did with whether you SHOULD have done it.

In my opinion you had every right to negotiate a deal. But it was cheesy and not something a grownup should do.

By the way, why did you want the MLB official to authenticate a ball that you were giving away anyway?

TO EVERYONE THREATENING/USING EXPLETIVES/NAME-CALLING:

The last line of the 5/13/09 @ Miller Park blog post reads the following:

“I must warn you in advance, if you resort to name-calling or threats, additional measures will be taken and your comments will be investigated/reported/deleted.

You can comment on this topic without lowering yourself to such measures.”

That is the reason your comments were deleted.
NOT because you disagree with me.

“Happy”

Dude, can you not see how you are the one who made this thing worse? And I reached that conclusion after reading YOUR version of events. You kept adding to the compensation you wanted for that ball. From what you said, it seems like it would have worked out just fine if you had just showed up at the dugout for your picture and your bat and handed over the ball. Look at it like this, imagine I somehow injured myself while I was on your property. You initially offer to pay for my ER call and I agree. But then, I start coming back to try to get more money (or whatever) out of you. What would you think of me? How would you view my actions? It wouldn’t matter to you if you could afford it or not. You would likely feel like I was trying to take advantage of you and nobody likes to feel that way. Also, imagine what it would be like to be a rookie up in the big show for only one week and someone tells you the only way you’re going to get your 1st HR ball is by imposing on the goodwill of a big-time player who you are probably in awe of as it is. It might upset you, yes? Finally, let me give you a little insight into how the public takes it when you tell them you’re in law enforcement in a situation like that. It’s like there is an implied threat there. And I am someone who has never committed a crime or been arrested or in any way had any “official” dealings with police other than the odd speeding ticket. In general, I have a lot of respect for law enforcement. If I were you, I think I would try to learn something from this event, especially since you do this ballhawking thing on a regular basis. It is rarely only one side that is at fault. I think both you and the Marlins could have handled it better.

Happy, grea story to read, must have been frustrating ordeal. If that was me, damn straight I would have asked for a few signed items from guys like Hanley. Not some rookie who will be back in the minors next week. After all of the crap they gave you, if it were me, I would have put the HR ball back in my pocket and told them that I have now changed my mind and was going to keep the ball for your own personal collection. Since it is your property now. You were dead on with the comment about selling it. How many times have we seen someone profit big time on a milestone HR? I have heard stories of teams doing this type of thing to fans. Come on what is 2 signed bats? I remember hearing the Yankees dragged the guy who caught A-Rods 500th ball below Yankee Stadium and threatened him with legal action if he did not turn over the ball. It is all BS. I would have kept it just to piss the Marlins off!

Happy – I’m sorry that this has gotten so out of hand for you. It is a tough situation. By the time Chris came out to see you, you don’t know what he might have been told about the ball – so I think that I can forgive him for being rude. I’m sure there was a lot of emotion for him. It was his first home run. Everyone has different reasons for going to game and we have different ways that we would react if we caught a “special” ball. And sadly, I think that it is these emotions that are coming into play here. For me, knowing how important mementos of special events are to my boys, I would just give it back – because that is what moms tend to do. But everyone is allowed to make their own decision on what to do at times like that and we all need to respect it. And yes – I think selling a special ball for money instead of giving it back is a lousy thing to do. It would never mean as much to the person who bought as it would to the person hit it. But that’s just me.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

“Happy”,

This is a little off the subject, but I swear I recognize your friend “Dino”. I think I went to middle school and high school with him. Does he have a long, Greek last name, and did he graduate from Tosa East in 1997? Just wondering.

Not a stand-up thing to do. You should be a better role model for your children.

“Good to see Marlins fans know how to hand over an important home run ball without embarrassing themselves, unlike Brewers fans.

Dodgers rookie Xavier Paul had no problems retrieving the ball he hit into the right-field bleachers for his first home run Friday night.

Paul met with the fans who caught the ball, had a pleasant conversation, and was asked only to autographed a bat and a ball. The couple (she was wearing a Dodgers jersey) didn’t ask for a Manny Ramirez bat or Joe Torre ball or two tickets to a Dodgers-Giants game or anything else.

This is a far cry from the demands and conduct of Nick Yohanek, the greedy fan in Milwaukee who caught Chris Coghlan’s first home run and came with a list before criticizing Coghlan and the Marlins after his demands became public.”

from the palm beach post…..learn how to act, clown

Tipped off to this situation after reading a well known blog this afternoon, it’s no wonder why people make fun of us here in Wisconsin. Coglan should have offered you a Johnsonville brat, a six pack of Miller Genuine Draft and some cheese fries.

Nick,

Just got in from San Diego like 30 minutes ago!! I had to come see the Happy Youngster Blog hype….INSANE!!! Officially, put me on your side!

I’ll comment about this more later!!

Oh yea, PETCO sucks….but A.J. got two balls at the game, kids a future ballhawk!! I’ll blog about it later!!

kastandya

Time for some late night commentary I guess.

It seems to me that, since Happy was the one with experience in this situation (grabbing homerun balls), he could have handled it better. I can imagine that Coghlan was hearing about this exchange third-hand as the game progressed and was getting agitated. It doesn’t excuse the way he acted, but if Happy really considers himself a professional ballhawk, then he should be in a better position to handle rookie players who hit their first home run. I also think the Hanley Ramirez request was a slight on Coghlan. Rookies go through a lot of little initiation things in major league clubhouses which can make one feel a bit ostracized. On top of that, we don’t really know if Coghlan and Ramirez have even talked at all. So, asking for a bat from Ramirez might have been an imposition or made the situation more uncomfortable for Coghlan.

I also understand that Happy was upset for being accused of switching baseballs… well, again, Happy should have used his experience and asked “Why would I go through the effort of switching balls on a rookie? There’s no value in it.”

Basically, Happy, if you think you’re a professional ballhawker, then act like a professional. Look at how you present yourself when you post “Good, bad, ugly” captions accusing the Marlins of being unprofessional when, on photos where it appears you’re the one who is being more animated. I don’t know a single TV personality that would let an unknown person hold a microphone (though it’s possible it was an off-air photo shoot). Don’t take credit for handing out balls to kids if you’re using a “deceptive” ploy like wearing the visiting team’s gear to encourage them to throw it to you because then, you’re taking balls away from that team’s true fans. And yes, Coghlin looks surprised in his picture but you don’t appear to have a smile on your face either (at least, compared to the 5 other pictures you smiled for)… so perhaps the picture caught you both offguard?

So, be a professional. Wear Brewers gear and proudly display you are a supporter and season ticket holder. That way, if this situation arises again, maybe you’ll have some Brewers personnel who can vouch for your credibility. Who knows, maybe some Brewers players will toss you some balls too.

An addendum. Out of curiosity, I decided to read your Wrigley Field 4/21/09 blog. How seriously am I supposed to take someone’s professionalism who calls baseball ushers “Nazi’s” and thinks they are in the “Gestapo”, bragging how you “beat the system” describing how proud you are to sneak into seats you didn’t pay for. Is that the kind of character they look for in law enforcement? You grabbed five balls, and gave one away, though, so I guess you feel better about yourself. I remember the first ball I legitimately caught and no one can ever take that feeling away from me. Why deny others the opportunity to feel the same way? Heck, I’ve only gotten four balls in 33 years and each one of them was special, yet I still gave the fourth one away.

You have brought shame to your family with your antics. I am ashamed to call you a Brewer fan. Mix in those ball shagging with a beer sometime, chief.

You shouldn’t have given him the ball…. He didn’t deserve it.

http://thewrightway.mlblogs.com/

wow, that player looked like a total *******. you made a good point about the fact that he doesnt own the ball, the fan does. he didn’t understand that, so i think thats why he freaked out when so little was requested. another reason to hate the marlins. they totally made you seem like a bad guy in that one article. heh, nobody shows up to their crappy stadium so im surprised they werent offering YOU the tickets!

I was at the game with Happy and let me tell you, it was by far the best experience that I have ever had at Miller Park. I had a blast watching the Crew destroy the Marlins with the infamous Happy Youngster. Thanks Nick!

Moving on…Chachlan is a weenie. He is rude, disrespectful, pompous and unprofessional. I know. I had the unfortunate experience of meeting the “not-so-happy youngster”. I was truly embarrased for him and MLB. Way to go Chachlan.

For those wondering how my glove was after the HY treatment……Awesome!!! I CAUGHT a toss up ball from Corey Hart in between innings. Happy got his attention. Corey tossed it up. I made a leaping grab. A little Happy Youngster mojo goes a long way!!!

BMG-Yes. I went to Tosa East class of ’97.

Glove + Ball = :D

I noticed he has managed one hit since this incident and is batting .167. Did you give him your version of the hample curse? I wouldnt have given it to him after saying you gonna give me my ball or what.

I consider myself a huge baseball fan. I make it to around 15 games a year and am usually walking through the gate as soon as it opens on game day to watch batting practice. I can remember going to Triple-A games as an 8-year-old and spending an hour-and-a-half asking for autographs from any minor-leaguer who happened to be around the dugout. Even then, autographs were tough to come by because I was surrounded by other 8-year-olds wearing baseball gloves. It was fun back then, and because I was in second grade, I never thought twice about my fellow second-graders that brought their gloves to the game.

I’m 26 now, and my batting practice experience is frequently ruined by 35-year-old ball hawks who are running around the bleachers and harassing players that are shagging flies in the outfield. I get that these guys are really into collecting baseballs, but there isn’t one ball hawk out there that doesn’t make a complete fool out of himself as he begs for a $2.00 baseball from someone that’s trying to get ready to do his job. Are you a grown man? Do you work a full-time job? If you’ve answered “yes” to both questions, leave the glove at home, chief. Ballparks should turn away anyone over the age of 13 that brings a glove into a game. I’m not going to stoop to name-calling or taking personal digs at anyone, but I think you guys should leave the childish behavior during BP to the thousands of children that are in attendance.

“Good to see Marlins fans know how to hand over an important home run ball without embarrassing themselves, unlike Brewers fans.

Dodgers rookie Xavier Paul had no problems retrieving the ball he hit into the right-field bleachers for his first home run Friday night.

Paul met with the fans who caught the ball, had a pleasant conversation, and was asked only to autographed a bat and a ball. The couple (she was wearing a Dodgers jersey) didn’t ask for a Manny Ramirez bat or Joe Torre ball or two tickets to a Dodgers-Giants game or anything else.

This is a far cry from the demands and conduct of Nick Yohanek, the greedy fan in Milwaukee who caught Chris Coghlan’s first home run and came with a list before criticizing Coghlan and the Marlins after his demands became public.”

http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/marlins/2009/05/16/xavier-paul-gets-his-ball/

Wow Happy this story totally passed me by,

The one thing I can tell you is the Marlins come to Toronto later this year and Coghlan is definately going to get a mouthful from me in the stands, if they haven’t called Maybin back to the team yet (probably a smarter idea).

I can’t believe he reluctantly posed for a picture with you. I think the word ‘ransom’ is being used a little too lightly in this situation. All you wanted was some baseball memorabilia. I agree that the Marlins Media Relations staff has concocted a very good ‘communications plan of action’ to spin you out to look like a greedy loonie in this situation. And for what? What do they get out of painting a single fan in such a negative light? Those people are trained professionals and they seemed to have some sort of vendetta against you. Don’t worry, they could make Bambi look like Lucifer if they wanted.

People have to remember that it is a free country, and there a lot more terrible things happening out there. Keep catching those balls if it makes you happy. Pursue your own version of happiness, and don’t let anyone discourage you.
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

Ya know, it’s a rule of the game that any ball hit or thrown into the stands is entitled to the person who gains possession of it. You have the right to do with it whatever you please. It is YOUR ball. You could ask for his paycheck, it’s your right, it’s your ball. Remember how Marc Ecko bought Bonds’s 756th ball and put an asterisk on it? Well, when Matt Murphy caught the ball, it was HIS ball. He sold it, now it’s Marc Ecko’s ball. Anyone that says otherwise obviously doesn’t attend baseball games.

Happy,

I am speechless, I was taken aback with how the whole thing went down. You probably weren’t acting exactly how you portrayed it in the blog, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s a free market, and it is supply and demand. What do 2 bats cost, $300 or so, is it that big of a deal? Probably not. The Hanley Ramirez bat probably made him feel like he was worthless, and maybe that provoked them to say that wasn’t possible. But he/they should understand that fans want things from famous players. That’s why popular players’ bats go for so much at auctions. And you don’t even sell them, the people that haven’t seen your shrine are criticizing you without even understanding what you do with your collectibles, but there is also no way for them to know that.
As for the commenters on here that rip on what you do, don’t even listen to them. I must admit, though, that I also don’t like the opposing teams shirts, hats, being worn by a fan of the other team. I just got back from the Brewers / Cardinals games in St. Louis (Saturday and Sunday, and got sun burnt on my forehead/face on Saturday, the had a hat giveaway that day and I brought the hats to Sunday’s game to try and sell them to Cardinals fans, I didn’t get around to asking people, but I remembered I had them and was in the sun again without a hat of my own and hat would have really helped the glare, and protect my face from even more burning. I couldn’t even bring myself to wear a hat to protect myself from skin cancer (highly unlikely, but related), that’s how big a Brewer fan I am, loyal to my team before loyalty to my face. This is in no way a rip on you and I realize I have rambled, but I just thought I would tell a story.
Also, the people that try to make up analogies for your whole “ransom” thing, hahaha, Coughlan using ransom for this is hilarious in my opinion. “Imagine I somehow injured myself while I was on your property” from the “historydoc” post from above. That one makes absolutely no sense. If you injure yourself on someone’s property, how is that the same. The baseball was Happy’s and he could do as he pleased with it. This was a bargaining situation, not a situation where someone comes back and tries to get money/stuff from someone that is basically unrelated in the incident. Apparently he is not a “doc” at all, because I hope that a doctor of any kind wouldn’t try and make that analogy.
I really didn’t expect there to be so many negative comments. I want them to put themselves in your shoes though. Actually, into the shoes of someone who catches an even more important Home Run Ball. A couple people say they would just give the ball back for absolutely nothing, now that is some BS. The person who catches Alex Rodriguez’s 763rd HR is not going to give it back for nothing, even if he convinces them it’s for his mom. They’re probably not going to give it back to A-Rod specifically at all, they are going to auction it off because money is more VALUABLE to them than the ball. The situation with Happy is just this on a smaller scale. Happy wants 2 bats, a ball, and a picture (total value: ~ $300), and Coughlan wants something that you can’t really put a price tag on. But if they asked him if he would pay $300 cash for it, he’d probably say yes, I know he doesn’t make that much because he’s a call-up, but if he wants his mom to have it so bad that it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. An MLB player’s per diem is around $100 a day anyways.
I feel bad for both sides, because it wasn’t handled properly (personal opinion= 95% Coughlan/Marlins fault, 5% Happy’s).

Happy,
On a happy note, pun intended, I got a Bill Hall BP homer on Sunday in St Louis off a Cardinal’s fans arm, he had kids, but I just couldn’t give it back (luckily he didn’t ask) because the Brewers had written on it……………. “MAKE IT RAIN”. It made my day for sure. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for Monday’s game, I say this because Kendall is sitting on 1999 career hits. I had my camera at the game today when he got 2 hits, but the Brewers grounded into 3 double plays, if they ground into only 2, Kendall gets a 5th at bat and a decent chance of seeing it, but he was left in the on-deck circle in the top of the ninth.

Good luck and hopefully this blows over quickly.

~ Ben

Hey,

First time I have left you a comment, I actually ordered your tee a few days ago, should be getting it any day, I plan on wearing it to a few games.

Good blog, as for the home run ball, great catch: bad day. I cannot understand why this young rookie acted the way he did, may be he misunderstood or someone was winding him up about what you wanted and that he will never see his first home run ball (which he wanted to give to his mum), I guess he got it in his head that you were being a jerk about it (which you clearly were not) so by the time he got to you HE was the one acting like a jerk. Let’s hope he learns and realizes that without fans there would not be a Major League, no high wages, no glory, nothing, sadly like about 70% of his fellow MLB players he will not learn this. I always like to see players who ACTUALLY care about THEIR fans or baseball fans in general. It is those players that are the real stars of the game.

Stuart Jon
http://stuartjon.mlblogs.com/

Happy,
Wow! What a completely suckish way to treat a fan! The boys of summer need to remember that without the fans they wouldn’t have a job. And as for the media, I can’t think of how many times they’ve twisted a story to make a headline not caring about how much damage is caused by doing so. Unfortunately most journalists don’t print the truth as it is but as they want it to be.
I think you should have kept the ball after they treated you that way.
Hope the rest of your games go better.

Happy, this is what I think you should’ve done…..Give it to the guy for nothing, but sign it, “To Chris, I caught your 1st and probably only major league HR. Have a great career in the minor leagues. Happy Youngster. That would’ve been a great gift for his mother. kastandya
http://kastandya.mlblogs.com/

Nick – your old high school classmate here. I think what you’re doing is awesome and I envy you. Judging by your pictures and the way the negotiations went down, sounds to me like they were trying to jag you around, which in my opinion is extremely distasteful. These pro ball players need to take a step back, face reality and realize how great their lives are just by having the opportunity to play pro ball. With that being said, I don’t think your request for the two bats was much at all. What does it really take for these guys to sign a bat or ball for the amount of money they make. CHRIS COGHLAN looks like an ungrateful dick in the picture. What would this guy be doing if he didn’t play ball? Probably working at the local McDonald’s back home asking you to super size your meal because he skated through his education because of his athletic ability and politics. Good work my old friend and keep it up.

I am amazed by some of the comments here. How can you not be on Happy’s side? Chris Coghlan and the Marlins organization were 100% in the wrong, and in my opinion should have never even gotten their ungrateful hands on that baseball when this was all said and done.
The FACTS are plain and clear….Happy caught the ball! It became HIS ball, not the Marlins or some pompous rookie’s. Then he made his requests and eventually gave the ball up. Who cares what he requested, thats part of the negotiations between him and them. I am offended by the actions of the Marlins, Chris Coghlan, and all of the idiots who don’t see this picture clearly.

Even when the requests are taken into consideration, what is the out-of-pocket cost to Chris Couglan for two autographed bats and a baseball? Or the Marlins tickets in Florida? He has access to bats, access to baseballs, access to Hanley Ramirez, and access to pens and markers. All at little or no cost to him!! The fact that the tickets caused an issue is a joke….The Marlins can’t get a crowd of 20,000 on any given day….they should’ve offered Happy season tickets at the hint that he was a willing attender.

The truth is….the Marlins and Chris Couglan were out-of-line when they went crying foul to the media with this story!! They unknowingly fueled a fire and built a bigger Happy Youngster following in Milwaukee. Good luck nexttime a Florida Marlin milestone homerun enters the bleachers at Miller Park….I’m already writing my “ransom” note, just in case I might be the new “owner” of that ball. And I can’t wait to see all the Happy Youngster shirts at the ballpark! kastandya
http://kastandya.mlblogs.com/

Kastandya! I had the same idea!! After we left the game that night, I told my wife that Happy shouldve signed the ball then gave it back to him. That woulda been classic!!!

I can’t help but to think that if you had a girlfriend and you were hitting regular homeruns with her that this ball hawking stuff might not be so important. Just a thought.

Ok finally read all the comments on here, read all news on the situation from all sides, listened to clips etc etc

My point of view as a baseball fan from what I know (I was not there, but I think for someone who was not present I know as much as anyone else).

The main issue seems to be miscommunication.

Facts
1- One home run ball caught, ball owned by the catcher (Happy Youngster).
2- The ball was a First home run ball hit by a 23 year old rookie (Chris Coghlan who has no doubt spent the last 13 plus years playing and dreaming of this moment).

Owner made it clear he would be willing to give up HIS ball in exchange for two bats (one from the rookie and one from a ‘star’ player)

The rookie just wanted his HR ball, naturally.

The problem seems to have started by Happy Youngster asking for a bat off the star player.

This is where the problems, lies and insults have got out of control. Happy Youngster collects baseball items, this signed bat from the ‘star’ would have been a good addition to that collection.

From the Marlins’ point of view this was a fan no different from any other fan. This fan had caught a rookie’s first HR ball, and was looking to ‘cash’ in on his catch. Why should they devalue their star by continuingly giving out his game bats? Would they have had such a problem if they had known it would have gone to a good collection and not straight on ebay the next day, who knows?

From Happy Youngster’s point of view he was using this opportunity to add to his collection. Why not it was a great catch, he’d earned the right to ask, right?

Neither party is wrong both had good reason to do what they did on the day.

Is anyone wrong? I would say the insults by fans and some officials have been wrong.

My earlier comment I suggested that the rookie needs to learn, I am hoping that this was even a bit harsh, this kid could well be a well mannered kid, but IF for the previous hour or so many officials from the Marlins had been telling lies and winding this rookie up to the point where he thought some fan was not going to give it to him unless he had, signed bats, balls, tickets, photos and from different players then of course he was going to be so rude and defensive, and when you think that in his mind this fan was taking what he wanted for his Mum then I can understand. However if you were to cut out the crap by crap I mean those who told lies and who looked to have stirred things up, IF Nick and Chris had talked one on one and Chris knew that he would get his HR ball but in return Nick wanted a signed bat off him and a game bat of one of his team mates then I don’t think any of this would have happened, we will never know.

Ball hawks exist as much as cocky rookies do, if this kid has worked hard to make the majors then of course he will be slightly cocky, hopefully he will learn to be humble, hopefully, and respect the fans and may be one day become one of the games great stars. If a grown adult wants to take a glove to a game and catch home run balls then so what, I can’t believe I read some comments stating that is something for a 5 year old? Why? Based on? Please.

For those that have offered constructed criticism towards the way EITHER party have acted over this situation then good for you, a sport is as successful as its fans. For those that have used this as an opportunity to insult, swear and otherwise talk utter rubbish, then I can’t see any place for you on an MLB blog, I am sure there are far better sites/blogs for you to insult people to make yourself feel better. And just because you have been watching/involved in the game for 40, 50, 60 or whatever years it still does not make an insult correct, time does not buy knowledge or respect, it only gives you the chance to learn your faults, or in some cases to ignore them.

HAPPY-
I hope you are going to report Pete from Chicago. If not for yourself, then for all the rest of us that share your hobby.

Glad to see you have no problem adding to the 15 minutes you say you wasted.

Happy –

If you would have just been respectful from the beginning you would have gotten what you wanted. I hope you haven’t single-handily ruined the Brewers karma this year. I now have to listen to Cubs fans harp on the fact that YOU represent most Brewers fans, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Way to set an example.

Wooohoooo and he’s back in the game!

Stuart Jon
http://stuartjon.mlblogs.com/

You seem like a real baseball fan, and that’s great, but there’s two kind of people I really dislike at a ballpark: the guys who seat jump all over and sit in seats for which they don’t have tickets, and guys who run all over in front of people and yell and scream like an idiot everytime a player on the field comes within 40 feet of them with a baseball to get the player to toss it to them. Quite frankly, those guys are annoying as hell to other fans.

It sounds like years ago you got a little bit of fame, and were recognized as a “happy youngster” who got a ball. That’s great, it’s a good story to tell your kids, but, seriously, dude, you’re an adult now, and I think I surmise that you may even be some sort of cop. It’s time to grow up….and you really shouldn’t steal balls left in the bullpen with some kind of jerryrigged contraption, that’s just plain theft. If a player left their hat or glove there unattended, would you take that also? It doesn’t seem like appropriate behavior for a cop.

I collect baseball cards, starting lineup figures, and McFarlane figures. I used to try to get as many as I could, then my wife said to me–“how much is enough already?” It made me think, and you know what, she’s right—so I limited my collection to just my hometown players (Indians) or very special cards. You have to ask yourself, how many baseballs do you really need? Really, what are you going to do with hundreds and hundreds of baseballs? If you talked to a therapist, I think you’d be told that you have a bit of a problem, ranging from simple obssession to the more serious problem of “hoarding”. Either way, it’s not fully mentally healthy. I wonder what a defense attorney would make of it on the witness stand in a big, big case. …I think your judgment could be called into question.

You know what would be a good thing….take your baseball collection, save a couple for your daughter, and donate the rest to your area little league. Go to games, root for the Brewers, and if a ball comes to you, by all means, snag it….but give up the gonzo ball grabbing tactics…..you’ll feel better, and you’ve already got enough stories for a lifetime, and you can tell your grandchildren about your past exploits. It’s time for the “The Happy Youngster” to become “The Happy Adult.”

To the above comment, so if someone has got OCD like you are suggesting he has got, it’s a condition and a difficult one to live with, I know many that help the stress by collecting things to deal with the condition, it helps them relax. Unless you are a professional in this field, don’t you think it’s not really your place to tell others what they should or should not do? May be you have OCD, may be you cannot stand when other people do not carry out their life’s to your views, that IS a condition of OCD, so before giving out advice to others it may be a good idea to start a little closer to home? just a thought……As long as people are not causing harm to others, like selling drugs to kids, drink driving, etc then can’t we do what makes us happy? If you have let your wife tell you to stop doing something you love then that’s your problem, if you got there by yourself then good for you. If Happy Youngster wants to collect baseballs to make him happy then neither you nor anyone else has the right to tell him to stop. I think it’s time to move past all this, don’t you? If he’s in your way at a game and annoying you then sure tell him to clear off, I would, and that’s your right as another fan trying to watch the game, but to come on HIS blog and tell him to stop doing the thing he loves, because in your world it’s wrong is just plan right OCD! No really it is, look it up on WIKI, for real.

Congrats on # 1 Happy. That’s a hell of a jump…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

Man, that’s a crazy story. I’m surprised at how Coghlan handled the situation. You’d think when a guy hits his first homer in the bigs, he’d be humble about it and would be kind about getting his ball back. His reaction was totally different than what I expected.
-Dillon
http://demboysfromthebronx.mlblogs.com

Nick – I know you would trade the #1 for some peace – but enjoy!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Sorry you have to deal with all this BS, Happy. I don’t think your request was that unreasonable. Two bats isn’t a huge request. It’s not like you were asking for autographed whatever from everyone on the team. Just two guys. Keep doing what you do, Happy. You’re a great guy, and don’t let this get to you. Hopefully this will all calm down for you soon.
Jen
http://ajroxmywhitesox.mlblogs.com

Happy-
I first heard your story through Don, the Rockpile Ranter. Obviously, I’m totally not with it since I haven’t ever stopped by here though. Like much of the world it seems, I definitely have an opinion on your story. And from my side, I don’t really see a problem with what you did. People think that only kids should bring gloves to games and only kids should be allowed to try and get home run balls. If I could, I would have a glove at every game and I’m 23; but I’m way too uncoordinated to catch a ball, I would do the duck and cover mode and probably end up running away from wherever it was going. So, that explains why I don’t have a glove.
To me, the way you’ve been treated by people is completely unfair. It’s very unfortunate that the media has the power to skew anyone’s view to make a person look innocent. The situation, in and of itself, probably could’ve been handled better. It’s unfortunate that you’ve gotten the raw end of the deal and been turned on by baseball fans everywhere.
As a fan, I think any respectable player would’ve been happy to give you what you wanted. I think for some people, a baseball is just a baseball, you catch one, good for you; but for others, catching a baseball is being apart of history, it’s being apart of the greatest game every played. I think that’s what you wanted, was to be apart of someone’s first home run, to ask for something to remember it by since you wouldn’t have the ball, and to let someone know how much it meant to you, as a fan, to catch someone’s first home run ball. At least, that’s how I look at a baseball. Don caught me my first BP ball and first major league ball ever, and I treasure it. It’s being apart of something so amazing, and I can only hope players understand that too. What an honor it must’ve been to catch someone’s first big league homer. I think what Chris Coghlan forgot is that you didn’t have to give him his ball (I’m glad you did, but you didn’t have to). It should be just as much of an honor to him that you were willing to give up such a huge piece of his history as it was for you to catch it.
I’m sorry that you’re having to go through this.
Emily
http://deconstructingthoughts.mlblogs.com/

If you wanted to keep the ball, fine. Asking for a Hanley bat was a classless move. Ramirez had NOTHING to do with you or Coghlan. Tickets were a little too much as well. Either be happy with a picture and a bat with the player who ACTUALLY hit the ball, or let it be.

Nice to see you getting some more support in the comments. It’s well deserved. One of the best arguments I have heard in YOUR favor is that if the players all have agents and try to get as much money as possible, why shouldn’t you (as a fan) try to get as much memorabilia from them? It has to go both ways, and anyway, your “demands” weren’t even that high. If bats are so expensive to the teams, then how come whenever a player loses the grip on one and sends it flying into the crowd, he doesn’t try to get it back? Answer: because it’s NOT that big a deal. Screw Coghlan. I have unofficially jinxed him.

Love your blog. You had every right to ask for something in exchange. I can’t believe more people don’t do this. MLB should bend over backwards for their fans that are attending as many games as you do in so many locations.

I’ve been debating on whether or not to add my two cents to this blog, since I have admittedly never visited this blog prior to hearing about this controversy. I’ve decided to go ahead and do so.
I’ll begin by saying that I really don’t get the fascination with ballhawking. An MLB baseball is an MLB baseball…they all look the same…I don’t understand why anyone would want or need hundreds of them. With that said, I’m sure that a lot of ballhawks wouldn’t get the fascination I have with MY hobby of collecting post cards from around the world. To each his (or her) own!
It’s true that a baseball that leaves the ballpark and lands in the seats belongs to the fan who catches it, and that fan has a right to keep it, give it away, throw it back, sell it, whatever. Happy, the fact that you agreed to give the ball to Coghlan in the first place tells me that you understood the significance of the ball for him. I commend you for that. I do, however, feel that you were out of line for requesting the Hanley Ramirez autographed bat, since he had nothing whatsoever to do with that home run. That request is probably what set off this entire controversy. I wonder if things would have turned out differently had you just asked for a bat signed by Coghlan himself, as well as the opportunity to personally give him the ball? Obviously, we’ll never know. You asked if requesting 2 bats was asking too much. In my opinion, yes it was.
I also think the Marlins were wrong as well, Happy. I think they overreacted to the requests that you made. The media relations manager was way out of line for accusing you of switching another ball for the HR ball. And while I do think Coghlan himself was rude, I can’t really fault him for that, because it’s quite likely that the media guy, or some other official from the Marlins, badmouthed you to him and led him to believe that you were, in effect, holding his HR ball for ransom. And if that’s the case, then it’s no wonder that he acted the way he did to you and said what he said to the media.
I must admit that I wonder what your demeanor was like as you discussed your requests with the various Marlins personnel. I don’t want to paint all ballhawks with the same brush…but just judging from the attitude and demeanor of some of your peers and supporters here, I can’t help but wonder if you were as polite and respectful as you would like us to believe. If you weren’t, then that’s probably another thing that set off this controversy, in addition to your request for Hanley Ramirez’s autograph.
If I had been fortunate enough to catch the ball from the very first MLB home run of a young ballplayer’s career, the only request/demand I would have made would be to have the opportunity to give him the ball myself. After doing so, I would then politely and respectfully ask for an autograph and a photo op…and I’m willing to bet that the ballplayer would grant my requests, without all of the drama that surrounded you in your situation.
Slightly off topic here…you stated that comments were deleted because they were “threatening/using expletives/name calling” and not because the people who posted them disagree with you. I find it both ironic and amusing that it’s apparently OK for those who support you to “resort to name-calling” by labeling commentors who disagree with you as “idiots,” and it’s also apparently OK for your supporters to tell the “haters” to “eat a dick.” If you’re going to censor name-calling and vulgarity in comments from people who disagree with you, then you should do the same for comments from those who agree with you. Just my opinion.
Good luck with your ballhawking.
Shelley — http://diamonddiva.mlblogs.com/

First off, I’d never even heard about a ballhawk until I read this article. Now, I hope I never meet one at a game. I find it sad that you have to resort to childish tactics such as wearing another team’s hat and stealing balls from the bullpen to collect even more balls so you can brag about it on your blog and show off to your other friends. If I were a player, I would be more inclined to toss a ball up to a true fan of the game & supporter of his team, then someone I saw switching hats 20 minutes earlier. It’s good to have a hobby and I respect that, but you seem to take it too far.

That being said I have played baseball and numerous other sports since before I was five. I more recently began playing softball to become more acquainted with hitting off the underhand motion to play in high school (and also because very few of the coaches of local teams wanted to pick a girl over a boy to play on a high level team, but that’s beside the point). So far in high school ball, I have only been blessed to hit one home run over, and it was one of the happiest moments of my sporting career. It was in a close game, that we eventually lost (coincidentally, on a walk off home run by the opposing team’s pitcher), but that still did not take away from the great feeling of euphoria I got from the hit.
When I returned to the dugout after the hit, one of my teammates younger sister returned the ball to me. I have no idea how I would have felt if she had asked me to retrieve a piece of memorabilia from a more veteran teammate in return for the ball, but I am sure that I would feel irritated and unappreciated.

I respect that both parties were feeling some friction during this time. Yes, your request was not too hard to fill, but as you changed it and the message ran through various members of the Marlin’s media relations group, I can understand how it got jumbled. Ever heard of the game Telephone? Same concept here. By the time you spoke to Mr. Coghlan, there is an abundance of things that he may have heard and I can understand his anger. Yes, it’s true he could have been more polite and taken a better picture, but how would you feel if you were in his situation.

As far as the Marlin’s workers go, they too could have handled this situation better. However, when viewing the photos that you presented, it looks clear to me, especially in the latter pictures, that you were the one becoming frustrated, not the other way around. And although no one ever likes to be called a liar, I can understand their questioning of the authenticity of the ball since you yourself stated that you had another one in your hand (not to mention your past history of keeping the home run ball while throwing back one stating that the ‘Cubs Suck’). You have to see the issue from both points of view. However, your desire to authenticate the ball immediately showed your desire to make sure it was the real ball, so I’ll give you brownie points there.

Also, some of you are forgetting that rookies are the low of the low, especially those brought up from the minor leagues mid season. Mr. Coghlan has probably already endured a large amount of hazing by his teammates, and doesn’t receive nearly the salary that they make. This might be his only opportunity in the majors, and he is trying to make the most of it. And trust me when I say, Mr. Coghlan isn’t in my good books as he took out one of my favorite (and one of the nicest) hometown players Akinori Iwamura in his errant slide a few weeks ago. This whole situation may have been avoided if you had just refrained from asking for the Ramirez bat (and to answer the question you posed earlier, yes, I do feel that was too much to ask). Next time this happens, maybe think about returning the ball out of the goodness of your heart, and give police officers the good publicity that they deserve.

Lastly, I would like to give you my view of a real ballhawk. There is an old alumni, who follows our softball season and pitcher’s stats every year. He reads the paper every day, and if he sees anything about any of us players, he is sure to cut the article out and give it to us the following home game. A very nice gesture that he doesn’t need to do, but he does it anyways. He also is sure to retrieve any home run ball hit out of the park fro either the home or visiting team. You would think that his efforts would be hampered by the fact that there is a pond behind our field, but alas, he brings rain boots with him in his truck just in case the ball goes in there and will wade chest deep in water to retrieve a ball for either team. What does he ask in return for this gesture of kindness? Nothing, not even a thank you. But you can bet that next year, when I graduate, I will be giving him some sort of present paid for out of my own pocket for his efforts. He deserves it.

Thanks for giving your side of the story!

Thanks for giving your side of the story! The media made it sound a lot worse. Two bats is not unreasonable at all!

Congrats!

I think what you asked for the ball was pretty reasonable bro. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is once that ball hit your glove it was your property. You have the right to refuse service to anyone, and what you asked for in return was chump change.

Keep on BallHawking

The Mojo Hand
http://themojohand.blogspot.com/

First off,let me start by saying this:i give you props for keeping your youth and the young man in you alive!!some of these people bashing you for catching all these baseballs for a hobby are the same guys who sit at home and do nothing or collect die cast cars,model train sets in their basement…plain & simple,we all need hobbies,and yours is out at baseball games having fun!another thing i want to give you props on is the most important thing in this whole story,you make a kids day by GIVING them some of your baseballs.that my friend is awesome!so many times i see these losers run little kids over to get a fly ball,it’s PATHETIC.you don’t hoard everyone like most would,you share them with kids,which seems to be overlooked.
Now,on to this little known(except in his hometown),cocky,typical ego driven young athlete who isn’t as good as his mirror says he is.the picture he took with you says it all.he is a smart-a** & your being genuine.what you asked for isn’t much or unreasonable at all.leave it to these poorly ran baseball clubs to not know how to handle even the simplest of tasks,and to think all of these ego-maniacs you talked to are making six figures during these tough economic times.my friend,what you are doing as a hobby seems to keep you happy,which in turn makes everyone around you happy & will keep you forever young,so please keep up the good work,you did nothing wrong here.
Folks,moral of the story is this,we are again shown how baseball brings out the kid in all of us,gives us all a fun, trouble-free hobby,we poor our hard to come by,hard earned money into our favorite teams,win or lose,yet at the end of the day those same teams management and the PLAYERS we idolize,seem to care less about us or our kids,just the all-mighty dollar we work so hard for to give them so they can have that ego “Mr”.Coghlan and those white collar fat heads are so proud of.
Please don’t lose this important tid bit,Chris”The Clown”Coghlan is tearing up the majors,hitting an astounding .214 and are you ready for these power numbers?YOU CAUGHT HIS ONLY HR BALL THIS YEAR!!!
And to think,the same people bashing you and your harmless hobby are probably the same people with a life size painting of Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Elvis over their bed and life-long hobby obsessions with them.
GOOD LUCK CATCHING MORE HOMERS & KEEP HAVING FUN AT ALL THOSE GAMES!!

Your request was not rediculous at all. It’s not like you were requesting a dozen bats. Two bats and a ball, big deal. Hopefully the Marlins realize they handled the situation poorly and make good with you somehow. Keep on going to parks and continuing your hobby. As a 19 year old autograph collector, I know there are much worse things that you or I could be doing. Keep on snagging!

You’re a selfish jerk. You have 775 baseballs. Give Coghlan his ball for his first ML homer that means so much to him and his family. Instead, you hold him over the coals and try to extort just as much as possible from him. You all keep calling him just a selfish major leaguer but you don’t know him. He happens to be the nicest person; have you ever seen him conduct an interview? His father died when he was 16; he has his mother and his brother and they’re a small time family to which baseball means so much. And this poor kid has to hit his first homer to you. You hold him over the coals and make it a miserable experience. Don’t worry: what goes around comes around. You’ll get yours someday, you selfish, unreasonable jerk.

Is it too late to leave (another) comment? I just read this entry again, and I’m blown away by the Marlins and how they bungled the entire transaction and mistreated you. Looking back on it, yeah, you should’ve just kept the ball and left. Anyway, I’m writing a section now for my book that’ll hopefully empower future milestone-catchers and encourage teams (and MLB) to do the right thing.

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