Former Diamondbacks player and current assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske finally got his ball back.
On Oct. 26, 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Tampa Bay Rays for Game 4 of the World Series. The Rays were walloped 10-2 in that game, but one of those Tampa Bay runs was courtesy of a pinch-hit, solo home run by Hinske in the fifth inning off Joe Blanton.
Sports Reference president Sean Forman shared a story on Twitter this week of his neighbor and friend, whose recently-deceased wife was the landscaper at Citizens Bank Park. The friend eventually connected with someone who reached out to Hinske and offered him his ball. Hinske expanded on the story in an interview with the Diamondbacks’ BP Show on Arizona Sports.
“I’m literally sitting looking at my emails in my office the other day and there’s an email in my work email at the D-backs from a guy named Bradley,” Hinske said Tuesday. “And the header’s like, ‘2008 World Series Game 4 home run.’ So I’m like, ‘Alright, I’ve got to look at this, see what it is.’ It’s pretty good. He wrote some stuff like, ‘Greetings from Philly. While your at-bat against Brad Lidge in Game 5 is cemented in Phillies lore’ — because I did strike out to lose the World Series that year — he said he’ll go on record to say that he thinks that I checked my swing on strike two.’
“Right away, it was like a clever email. It was just, ‘Hey, I’m writing because a friend of mine was married to the head of landscaping at Citizens Bank Ballpark and she sadly recently passed away, which is horrible. And I was given a box of Phillies memorabilia which included the ball, which she retrieved the morning after the game. I recognize you have three World Series rings but I thought you might like to add this ball to your home run collection. Can I mail it to the D-backs’ office? — Brad.’”
“Yeah! It’s 12 years later, you don’t usually get an email like that, right? I emailed him back and said I specifically remember the next day trying to go find the ball.”
Earlier this month, Chase Field reopened for Hinske to go back to work with some of the players in the batting cage. The ball found its way back to Arizona, and Hinske posed for a photo with the ball at the ballpark.
“Sure enough, he sent the ball in like a [Phillies manager] Charlie Manuel bobblehead box,” Hinske said, laughing. “And he sent a picture of Joe Blanton, who I hit it off of, and there was writing on the back of it. And this dude was like really cool and all-in on it.
“Whoever this guy is, he was genuine and sincere and he sent it all on his own dime, so it was pretty cool.”