|Can't find a plumber on weekend? Maybe he was catching Bonds ball|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 05 August 2007 08:48|
``It was pretty neat to be part of history,'' said Hughes, a 33-year-old plumber from the city's La Jolla section. ``I'll have something to tell my kids.''
Hughes became an instant celebrity Saturday night when he scooped up Bonds' No. 755, which tied the San Francisco Giants' slugger with Hank Aaron as baseball's most prolific home run hitter.
``People were congratulating me,'' he said.
Bonds wasn't one of them, however. The slugger with the surly reputation didn't acknowledge Hughes when their paths crossed at a post-game news conference, even though Bonds walked right by the plumber.
Hughes was gracious about the brush-off, saying, ``He's probably anxious to go out and celebrate with his family.''
Indeed, Bonds said he wouldn't be in Sunday's starting lineup against the San Diego Padres for that reason.
Bonds sent a fastball from Padres pitcher Clay Hensley the opposite way into the lower left-field seats at Petco Park to lead off the second inning Saturday night.
``I was kind of rooting for it,'' Hughes said. ``As Barry Bonds said, records are made to be broken. It was quite an accomplishment.''
Bonds had said he wasn't interested in the ball and had encouraged whoever was the lucky recipient to cash in.
Hughes said he was undecided about his plans for the record-tying ball - whether it should go to the Hall of Fame, be given to Bonds or sold. It's unclear how much the ball would fetch on the open market, especially since Bonds' next homer will make him baseball's career leader.
``I'm going to kind of enjoy the moment,'' Hughes said.
The ball clanged off an advertising sign attached to the upper deck and fell into the left-field seats below.
``I saw it hit above me and came down on the ground,'' Hughes said. ``I was at the back of the pile. I pretty much jumped up and said, 'I got it!'''
The ball traveled an estimated 382 feet in the direction of Hughes, who was in the front row with his 18-year-old cousin Justin Marquardt of Chicago. They got the tickets through Hughes' mother, who bought them from a friend.
After coming up with the prize, Hughes was whisked away by security to a room near center field. The specially marked ball was immediately authenticated by major league officials.
Hughes said he'd stash the ball in a safe place.
``I don't have a mantle to put it on or anything,'' he said.
Wearing a white Padres T-shirt and a goatee, Hughes appeared a bit dazed by his turn in the spotlight.
``I'm not the one who made any big accomplishment,'' he said. ``I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.''
Hughes and Marquardt had talked about what they would do if they got hold of a Bonds' homer.
``My cousin was even saying before we went to the game, 'Gosh, this is going to be a great night,''' Hughes said.
Was it ever.