He didn’t catch it, but thanks to a generous bullpen catcher, Jamie Tilley has a valuable little piece of baseball history.
36-year-old Barrie, Ontario resident Jamie Tilley is an Alex Rodriguez fan, despite his allegiance to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Now, Tilley holds a milestone home run ball from the Yankees’ third baseman; the one that pushed him past Mickey Mantle for 13th on the all-time list.
A-Rod’s fourth-inning home last Saturday at the Rogers Centre came off reliever Brian Tallet. Tilley, a merchandiser, was at the game thanks to receiving a pair of tickets from his employer.
He took his three-year-old son Matthew to his first Jays game, and left with a potential windfall.
"(A-Rod) was one of the reasons I went down. He’s the best player I think I’m ever going to see in my life," Tilley told a local newspaper. "(But) my little boy is a huge fan of trains and this was his first subway ride, so that was actually more exciting for him."
Tilley and his son were seated in the first row of section 137 when Rodriguez homered off the left-field foul pole. The ball bounced into the Jays bullpen where it was picked up by bullpen catcher Alex Andreopoulos who gestured to young Matthew and gave away a fairly significant piece of baseball history.
He just didn’t believe it at first. "I was looking at it, and I said, ‘it’s a bit dirty. I don’t think it’s the game ball," said Tilley. "When I turned it over, there were some yellow marks on the ball (from the foul pole). I thought, ‘jeez, it could be.’"
Tilley tried to grab Andreopoulos’ attention, hoping to verify the ball was, indeed, an important one, but he was unsuccessful in his attempts. Then, in the seventh inning, security began to increase around the seating section behind the Jays’ bullpen, and some staffers were talking to Andreopoulos and pointing towards Tilley.
He was asked if he wanted to meet Rodriguez, have a picture taken and –more than likely surrender the ball in exchange for the meet-and-greet and maybe some autographs. Wise in the potential value of the ball, Tilley declined.
"I said, ‘I don’t really know what I have here, so I think I’m just going to hang onto it," he said. "Then the gentleman from the Yankees asked me for my number, and I said, ‘sure.’"
Tilley hasn’t received a call from the Yankees, and isn’t sure of his plans for the ball just yet. The ball could be worth $10,000 or more.
"I’m not in a rush to do anything," Tilley told the newspaper. "I told them they could call me, so I’ll give them the courtesy first. I’m assuming he wants it, but I really don’t know what to do until I hear from them. He may not even be interested in it.
"I’m not taking any offers (for now)," he added. "I’ll just keep it. Maybe I’ll keep it forever. I’m not sure."