Apr 30, 2015
For most people, running a 5K is enough physical exertion for a single day. Not so for Oakland ballhawk Nick Badders.
On April 11 Badders ran the A's Playball 5K in the morning, leaving him quite fatigued, but that didn't stop him from coming to the ballpark later in the day to do some ballhawking. Badders' dedication paid off in a big way when he snagged his first career home run, a clean catch of a Dustin Ackley homer.
Luck was on his side from the beginning. Badders, last year's Minor League Junior Ballhawk of the Year, enjoyed the rare occurance of having a home run ball come directly to him without having to move an inch. And since he was seated in the middle of an aisle, he couldn't have moved even if he wanted to.
"Everyone in 149 (the section I sit in) has a seat that they usually sit in for games," he said. "I usually sit anywhere from seat 12 to 16 in the first row (16 is on the aisle at the left side of thesection), but when I ran into the stadium and got down to the section shortly after 11am, something just told me to sit somewhere else and switch things up."
Badders took a seat in the middle of the aisle and hoped for the best. When Dustin Ackley launched a bomb in his direction, it was almost too improbable to believe.
"I wasn't looking at the field when the ball made contact with the bat because I had been looking down at my phone, as I had literally *just* posted a picture on Instagram," he said. "All of a sudden, my friend Will, who was sitting two seats to my right, yelled out 'Oh crap.' I looked up from my phone and the ball was headed right for me. I didn't have much time to react, but I thought it would die at the wall. It kept carrying and carrying. I stood up, reached out and caught it, the ball was hit literally right at me."
Badders was elated, and he didn't have too much problem enduring the typical taunts to "Throw it Back" from both the crowd around him and outfielder Cody Ross. Trying to savor the moment of catching his first game home run ball in his ballhawking career, he could barely believe the sequence of events that had just transpired.
"It was such a blur," he said. "I might have even closed my eyes, I'm not sure. Either way, I couldn't believe it at first; I looked down into my glove in disbelief. It didn't really sink in until a couple of innings later. My phone was blowing up, it was incredibly overwhelming."
In addition to the stream of messages pouring into his phone, Badders also got the chance to be interviewed on camera about the experience.