The fan who caught what would have been one of the most valuable pieces of modern era Dodgers memorabilia turned it over to Justin Turner after the Dodgers’ hero beat the Cubs with a three-run blast Sunday night.
Keith Hupp is a retired Southern California police officer and a collector who seems to make a habit of being at the right place at the right time.
— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) October 16, 2017
He caught Turner’s blast on the fly, moving several steps to his left. He was immediately approached by a security officer, who escorted him through the bullpen and into a hallway where he met Turner who asked for the ball, offering memorabilia in trade. Hupp didn’t ask for anything specific but hesitated. Turner humorously told the story of their meeting in a post-game interview with MLBTV.
“He actually said ‘this ball means so much to me, you have no idea’,” Turner said. “I said it kind of means a lot to me, too so if I could get that ball, it’d be great. I took his information down and told him to think about it long and hard tonight and tomorrow and let me know what you need.”
Turner said he’d never hit a walk-off home run—even before his pro career began.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 16, 2017
Hupp will get something nice in return, for sure, but the ball would likely have fetched at least five-figure price. The money, apparently, is secondary to his loyalty to the Dodgers and the pure joy of having the baseballs, even if only for a few minutes. He’s owned season tickets for many years and owns 24 home run balls, eight of which he caught himself. He snared Cody Bellinger’s 36th home run of the season, which broke the Dodgers’ record for most by a rookie held by Mike Piazza. That happened in San Diego where Hupp had traveled to watch the series with the Padres. The day before, he had purchased Bellinger’s 35th home run ball from another fan who had snared it. Eventually he traded them to the Dodgers for a game-used Bellinger jersey. He didn’t have to pay that much.
“Those are the only two balls I’ve ever bought in my life because I knew they were historic.,” Hupp said. “I bought the first one for $300 and the second one for $500. I got offered a huge amount of money from collectors, but when a player wants a ball back, I’d rather give them the ball.”
“That was the biggest ball I’ve ever caught,” Hupp said of Turner’s homer. “I thought the biggest ball I’d catch in my life was earlier this year when I caught the game-winning home run ball from Ian Kinsler when the USA won the World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium.”
Last October, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that it was also Hupp who caught Turner’s home run in Game 3 of the National League Championship series, a shot that landed not far from the one he caught Sunday night.
“That one was on the railing,” Hupp said. “This one was over the batter’s eye.”
Hupp said he’s dislocated his shoulder multiple times and the natural left-hander has had to learn how to catch with a glove on his left hand.
“I study the ESPN Home Run Tracker before every game,” Hupp told ESPN. “I’ll try to position myself to be in the best spot based on the player and pitcher. I track the home runs of every player in MLB, so I have an idea of where a home run ball might go.
“When I go to a game, there’s just something in me where I want to catch the ball, so I always sit in the outfield and I always have an aisle seat.”