In my career at the Dome, I have been close to many baseballs that have reached the seats. It would make sense that a beer vendor walking around the dome for 20 years would be unexpectedly targeted by foul tips and a home run once and a while. Some games it seems like the wayward baseballs are all around me.
Since 1989, I have caught 7 baseballs leaving the playing field, and have been hit by 2 others that were retrieved by overexcited fans.
The only home run that I caught was in left field and it landed at my feet after bouncing off the glove of an Anaheim Angel. It was a long fly ball to deep left center field that the left fielder was chasing. He was about 25 feet away from me when he made an attempt on the ball. It actually landed in his glove for a split second and then rolled on top of the 4-inch wide fence for 5-10 feet before falling into the seats and rolling 10 feet right up to me. It would have been a web gem had he caught it, but it became a souvenir. I can still replay the event in my head.
The other 6 baseballs were foul balls. Sections 121 (twice), 125, 127(twice), and 130 were the locations. There was nothing special about any of the catches. Fans had chances at each one first, but the balls came right to me. The second catch in section 127 in 2007 was probably the most spectacular. It bounced off 2 sets of hands and then right to me. I actually backhanded it, because it happened so fast.
My most recent attempt at a foul ball was this year in June. This ball was tracking me right off the bat like no other. I was walking down the aisle with a case of Bud plus 6 (no room for anything extra). Not missing a step on the stairs, I banked the ball off my chest into the tray. The ball bounced off a couple of those Bud Lights on the top and rolled away. Dammit… there goes my chance to be on SportsCenter. Would have made a great WebGem. At least the guy that caught it bought a 6 pack for his friends.
I have made it a habit when catching a baseball to locate some kid close by and give them the ball. Not one of those bratty kids begging for the ball that will throw it around the backyard, but a kid that will cherish the ball forever. The ball means nothing to me, I have dozens of them.
I will always remember the look from a 7-year-old girl when I handed her the foul ball I just caught in 2006. Her eyes got really big, like a Christmas gift she was never expecting. She understood the rarity of getting a real baseball at a Twins game, and will tell her friends about that baseball for many years.