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Let's Catch Two: Same Fan Grabs Back-To-Back Home Run Balls

May 22, 2012
Originally published on May 22, 2012 6:02 pm

"That's just crazy," Cincinnati Reds fan Caleb Lloyd said Monday night after he ended up snagging two home runs balls — from consecutive batters — during the Reds' 4-1 win over the visiting Atlanta Braves.

MLB.com has video of the highly unlikely events. It was the fourth inning, and the first ball to come toward Lloyd, sitting just above the wall in left-center field, was hit by the Reds' Mike Leake. It was the pitcher's first-ever home run.

Lloyd, a 20-year-old college student, caught the ball barehanded. "It hurt really bad," he said with a smile after the game.

The next batter up, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart, launched another ball Lloyd's way. That one landed behind Lloyd and then bounced into his lap.

And that, as Lloyd said later, was just crazy.

Lloyd, who says he'd never caught a ball before at a game, gave the first ball to Leake. He wanted the pitcher to have it since it was Leake's first homer. Lloyd gave the second ball to the friend he went to the game with, since the buddy's uncle had gotten them the tickets.

Now, he says, he's hoping for a call from one of the late night comedy shows. Dave? Jay? Conan? Anbody interested?

Update at 3 p.m. ET. His Best Time Ever:

Lloyd told NPR's Robert Siegel this afternoon that when the second ball headed his way, he couldn't believe what was happening. "Am I actually going to catch two home run balls?" he wondered. Grabbing that one, Lloyd said, made it "the best time I've ever had in my entire life."

Tonight, by the way, he's headed back to the ballpark. The Reds have said he'll be their honorary captain for the evening, Lloyd told Robert.

Much more from their conversation will be on today's All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, we'll add the as-broadcast version of the conversation to the top of this post.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Something truly remarkable happened last night at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati as the Reds took on the visiting Atlanta Braves. Sure, the Reds hit back-to-back-to-back home runs, but every bit as remarkable is the fact that the first two home run balls were caught by the same fan. Caleb Lloyd, a 20-year-old junior at Thomas More College, was sitting in the first row, left-center field, when fate flew his way twice. And he joins us now from Cincinnati. Hiya.

CALEB LLOYD: Hi. How are you doing?

SIEGEL: We should say you didn't have a glove with you at the ballpark. Does your hand hurt today?

LLOYD: Oh, it hurts so bad. I forgot my glove at home, and I didn't expect for a home run ball to actually come towards me. And then it just hit me right in the hand, and it hurt really bad, actually.

SIEGEL: Well, take us back, fourth inning, Reds pitcher Mike Leake was at the bat. He hits it toward the seats, and you are thinking what?

LLOYD: Actually, I didn't even see the ball. I've seen it when it first left in bat. And then when it was in the air, I lost sight of it. And then my buddy goes, there it is right there. It's coming right at us. So I said, oh, my gosh, I cannot see it, like - and then I finally just reached out my hand, and I caught it bare-handed. And it hurt really bad. And I was just in shock the entire time.

SIEGEL: Next batter, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart, he also hits the ball in your direction. What were you thinking then?

LLOYD: Well, I've seen that one the entire time, and I was like, am I actually going to catch two home run balls? And I kind of lose it for a second, then I was like, oh, and then I, like, it goes over my head, and then I see it bounce right in front of me. And I just reached out my hand and snagged it. And I just, like, I got two home run balls. It's like the best day. It's my first time at the park. It's the best time I've ever had in my entire life.

SIEGEL: Have you ever caught a home run ball or a foul ball before at the ballpark?

LLOYD: No, never even came close to catching either one of them.

SIEGEL: Now, as I understand it, you didn't keep either of the home run balls that you caught.

LLOYD: No, I didn't. The first one, Leake's ball, they came down and said it's Leake's first ever Major League home run. Can they get it back? And I said no problem. I guess, I'm not meant to have this (unintelligible) to me. And they decided that they're going to give me a signed ball, which was really nice of them. And then the second ball, my buddy, he actually was the one that, like, jumped as high as he can to catch it and missed it. I decided to give it to him because I already have one, I thought, at the moment, and then it was pretty nice. I was just overall just happy to be there and just be having a blast.

SIEGEL: Well, just to clarify, the second ball bounced around a bit, so did you grab it with the same hand that you caught the other one?

LLOYD: No, I didn't. I have one of - I have Leake's ball in my left hand, and I reached out my right hand, and I catch it. I was jumping up and down with two baseballs in my hands - two home run balls, which was pretty exciting. Everyone around me, can I get one? Can I get one? It was just a great experience.

SIEGEL: Next time you go to the ballpark, you're going to take your glove?

LLOYD: Nope. I'm going bare-handed again.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LLOYD: I'm actually going tonight. I heard that I might be honorary captain, which is pretty nice.

SIEGEL: You know, knowing a little bit about baseball players, they could want you to come and sit in that same seat in left-center field all the time, you know?

LLOYD: If they would give me season tickets to sit in that same seat, I would be obliged to sit in every - that same seat every day.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIEGEL: OK. Well, good luck to you. Congratulations on your extraordinary stroke of luck last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LLOYD: Thank you. I hope to have the same luck the rest of my life.

SIEGEL: That is Caleb Lloyd, a Cincinnati Reds fan, who last night caught two home run balls hit by successive batters in the Reds' win, we should say, over the Atlanta Braves.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For those of you wondering, gosh, what are the odds? Well, back in 2005, a Houston Astros fan also caught two home run balls in one game. At the time, ESPN talked with Brad Efron, chairman of the statistics department at Stanford University. He calculated the odds at between one in 1,000 and one in 5,000.

SIEGEL: If that seems a little low to you, Efron explained of the roughly 43,000 people in the ballpark that night in October, only a few thousand were in a position to catch a home run ball.

CORNISH: One factor that makes last night's feat really special, the Astros game back in 2005 lasted twice as long as the standard game - 18 innings in six hours - and those catches were made three hours apart. Last night in Cincinnati, Caleb Lloyd needed just two batters.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.