Alex Kopp has spent many nights since the beginning of April standing at the back of the flag court at Oriole Park, waiting for his perfect opportunity to snag a home run ball during an Orioles game. A recent graduate of University of Maryland, College Park, Kopp caught a Mike Moustakas home run on the fly back on May 8. The next goal was to net a milestone home run, a player’s first career shot or 100th, for example.
Then yesterday, at an 81 degree overcast Father’s Day baseball game at Camden Yards, Kopp came through. In the bottom of the third inning, Chris Davis stepped up to the plate with a man on third and two outs. On a 91 MPH cutter from Red Sox ace Jon Lester, Davis belted his Major League leading 23rd home run to the back of the flag court at Camden Yards. The significance of this shot, other than upping the Orioles lead to 3-0 over the Red Sox, was that Chris Davis had just launched his 100th career home run.
And back there to catch it was Kopp:
“I was standing out on Eutaw Street, hoping he would hit one far out there, but I was running for it immediately,” Kopp recalled. As seen in the video, Kopp says he “turned back around and looked in my glove to make sure I actually had it.”
Fellow glove-wielding fan Grant Edrington was just yards away and approached Kopp to celebrate.
Within minutes, a Camden Yards supervisor was escorting Kopp and Edrington to home plate plaza, where they would eventually meet Orioles Media Relations Manager Jeff Lantz.
It is general protocol for stadium security at ballparks nationwide to retrieve milestone baseballs from fans. In exchange, fans generally are offered an autograph or other small piece of memorabilia in return for the ball. Kopp wasn’t falling for it. Common knowledge among baseball collectors is to, at the very least, request to return the ball to the player him/herself.
Having just talked with Edrington before the game about Davis sitting on 99 career home runs, Kopp had an idea of what he wanted to do in this very situation.
With the bargaining chip in hand, a brief discussion ensued, and it was decided that Kopp would be allowed to meet Chris Davis after the game in order to hand him the ball himself.
Lantz held onto the ball for the rest of the game in order to preserve definite authentication, but once Kopp and Edrington met him after the final out, the ball was returned to its rightful owner to be passed on to its deserving possessor.
As seen at the 38-second mark in this video, Kopp entered the underground tunnels below the concourse and met up with Chris Davis, who presented him with a used bat as well as two baseballs, signing all three items for him and taking photos with both him and Edrington.
The left field seats of Camden Yards have grown to know ballhawk Tim Anderson, who in 2011 snagged three gamers in three consecutive days and also caught two home runs in one night. Kopp, a first year season ticket holder now residing in Baltimore City, combined with Anderson, make a skilled 1-2 punch on both sides of the Oriole Park outfield as far as ballhawking duos go.
The next home run out to Eutaw Street is a sure bet to land in the Rawlings glove of Alex Kopp.