Call it serendipity.
Adam Hughes, a 33-year-old native of Colorado who is a plumber and lives in the Village of La Jolla, came up with the 755th home run whacked by Barry Bonds last weekend at San Diego Petco Park that tied Henry “Hank” Aaron’s all-time career record.
Hughes, who’s never come away with a baseball at a major league game before, was stunned by his good fortune. “I didn’t in a million years think that would happen,” he said. “How can you prepare for anything like that?”
The record-setting homer came early, the second inning, of what turned out to be a 12-inning game.
A Padres and a Colorado Rockies fan, Hughes only goes to three to five games a year. His mother actually bought the ticket which landed him the left field seat, giving him an opportunity to claim the record-tying home run ball that could be worth a considerable amount of money in the collector’s market.
“My mom bought the tickets for me and my cousin who was in from out of town through Craig’s list,” Hughes said. “The guy she bought them from also happened to live in La Jolla.”
Hughes talked about the big moment when he came up with home run ball out of a scramble in the outfield seats. “I was in left field section 130, row 1 on the lower field,” he said. “The ball hit the second deck (above him) and dropped down a level.
There was a big pile of people (scrambling for it). People couldn’t seem to find it. I was looking down at the bottom of the pile and it (ball) came out of the side and I picked it up.
Everybody started congratulating me right away. My cousin turned around, and there I am with the ball in my hand, and we just started jumping up and down and high-fiving.”
Asked if he’d be willing to take a photo with his record-setting memento, Hughes said, “I can’t. It’s in a safe deposit box.”
Hughes realizes he’s lucked upon something that’s not only potentially financially valuable, but something truly memorable. “It’s a piece of history,” he noted.
What’s Hughes going to do with his prize catch? He was contacted by Cooperstown, the site of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame, asking him what he intended to do with it. “Right now, I could probably benefit greatly if I just used it as a way to get a leg up,” he said. “I’m just going to sell it to the highest bidder.”
Hughes is uncertain what the true value is of the all-time tying home-run-record ball. “Mark McGwire’s (then all-time season-record 71st home run) ball went for $2 million,” he said. “I’ve called around. You can’t really appraise it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I think it’s probably worth six figures.”
Asked whether Bonds deserves to have an asterisk next to his name because of his alleged use of steroids to enhance his performance, Hughes said he held nothing against the all-time slugger. “This is a lifetime achievement,” he said. “I’m under the impression that people started using steroids in all major league sports because it was legal. He may even have been one of the people that started using steroids before they were illegal. I don’t condone it. But I don’t think there should be an asterisk. I think he would have broken the record anyway. He’s still a great player with the ability to accomplish quite a bit with his career, no matter what.”
Hughes added he’s not in business for himself. At least, not yet.