Fan returns home run ball, gets bat instead
Fan returns home run ball, gets bat instead San Francisco Giants Travis Ishikawa hits a three-run home run (AP photo / Thinkstock)
Fan returns home run ball, gets bat instead
Lexile: 950L

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A lifelong San Francisco fan had a piece of team history in his hands last week, the home run ball that sent the Giants to the baseball World Series.

Then he gave it back.

Frank Burke, who owns a transmission repair business in Oakdale, Calif., said that he wanted the hitter, Travis Ishikawa, to have the ball.

"I believe in karma," he told The Associated Press. "I didn't hit that ball .... if anybody's going to have that ball in their game room or trophy case, it's going to be the guy who hit it."

Burke said he hadn't planned on keeping the ball. He keeps home run balls from his high school days in his own trophy case.

"They're still important to me, they're part of my memories," he said. "So why would I think that he (Ishikawa) wouldn't want the same thing?"

So after having the ball authenticated by a Giants official, and being told that Ishikawa wanted it back, Burke went down to the clubhouse area and handed it over. Ishikawa shook hands, thanked him, and gave him a signed bat in return.

Burke said Giants officials asked him what he would like and he suggested World Series tickets but was told that was unlikely.

After doing a media interview the next morning, however, he got a call from the Giants. Burke now has four tickets to Game 3 of the World Series at San Francisco's AT&T Park on Friday night. It will be the Giants' first home game against the Kansas City Royals.

Burke plans on taking his friend, Greg Leutza, who is battling cancer.

The two were at last Thursday's game because Burke wanted to do something special for Leutza and went searching for tickets after the Giants won the National League Division Series.

Ishikawa's drive came their way as they sat above the stadium's right field wall in the ninth inning with two Giants on base.

As the ball sped toward him, Burke thought to himself: "Soft hands, soft hands. Don't let this thing bounce back on the field."

The ball went off his left hand but he was able to grab it with his right.

"The whole place erupted," Burke said. "It was a walkoff home run. We were going to the World Series!" Other fans clustered around.

"I couldn't move from where I was because everyone around me wanted to touch the ball, take pictures with the ball. I must have taken 300 selfies in 15 minutes," he said.

After meeting Ishikawa and turning over the ball, Burke and Leutza walked out of the clubhouse "like two little kids, hootin' and hollerin'," he said.

But Burke said the ball and the bat weren't the things he treasured most.

"Just the memory for me and my buddy, that's priceless," he said. "That meant more to me than anything else will."

Critical thinking challenge: This story describes two thoughtful things that Frank Burke did. What are they?

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  • kevink-Ven
    10/24/2014 - 09:03 a.m.

    Wow I think it's really nice he gave the game winning ball back to the player who hit. I'm not sure if I would do the same but the player deserves to keep the ball because he was the win. The memory of catching it was worth it enough. That was a nice thing to do.

  • michaelmc1-Wil
    10/24/2014 - 09:17 a.m.

    The Giants will keep the title. Even if I am a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, I think the the Giants will win the world series. KS do not have a chance to defeat the Giants. I think it will be amazing ending of a series at 4 to 3, in the world series. With 5 home runs, and a grand slam for the Giants. KS will only get one home run.

  • LaurelM-4
    10/24/2014 - 10:42 a.m.

    A San Francisco giants fan had caught the winning home run ball but he didn't keep it. He decided to give it back to the player because he thought that he would want to keep it. Instead of getting the ball he got a signed bat and four tickets to Game 3 of the World Series. He would take his friend who was battling cancer. I think that this was a very considerate thing to do. Most people in this situation would have just kept the ball. It was kind of him to take in consideration if the player wanted to keep it.

  • Samp-1
    10/24/2014 - 11:05 a.m.

    I think that it is very nice that the guy who caught the homerun ball gave it back. The person that hit the homerun must be very grateful that he hated to that guy so he can have his ball back. If I ever hit a homerun I want that guy to catch it so I could have it back.

    10/24/2014 - 12:11 p.m.

    Two thoughtful things that Frank Burt did were that he was going to return the ball back to Travis Ishikawa and the second thing would do is take his friend who was battling cancer to the game number 3 of the World Series. I think that is was really nice of him to return the ball since he remembered in his High School days he kept his home run balls and thought that Travis would want the same.

  • Big_Fluffy_Giant
    10/24/2014 - 12:24 p.m.

    That's weird why would the fan do that. He could have got millions of dollars for that ball. But it was the good thing to do.

  • ct2000green
    10/24/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    This was a nice story to read. I like how the man who caught the ball decided to give it back. Sure, it may have seem foolish but it was a good move and he got something in return for this good deed.

  • NoahMurr15
    10/24/2014 - 01:29 p.m.

    That was nice of him to give him the game ball back that he had earned. I would have done the same thing. That was also nice of Ishikawa of giving him a bat in return.

  • BrynnDani
    10/24/2014 - 01:37 p.m.

    You can tell just from reading this story that Frank Burke has his heart in the right place. Most people would have kept the ball for themselves but as soon as Burke learned that the hitter wanted it, he handed it over without a thought. This is a great example of how good things happen to good people.

  • SebastianH-1
    10/24/2014 - 04:05 p.m.

    A man caught a home run ball at a recent game and returned it to the player that pitched it. To his surprise, he was given the bat of the player. He shows great gratitude for the bat. This article was well detailed for such a small topic. It has quotes from the people in the article to express feelings.

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