Promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City to fill the void of Austin Barnes when he was placed on the 10-day injured list, Will Smith has enjoyed a memorable first week with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 24-year-old made his MLB debut on May 28 against the New York Mets and promptly tallied his first two career hits in four at-bats. He additionally threw out two baserunners over the next three contests and managed to close out the month with another hit against the Philadelphia Phillies.
At the turn of June, Smith experienced arguably the most thrilling moment of his professional career. In the bottom of the ninth inning against Phillies reliever Hector Neris, he propelled the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory with his first MLB home run in walk-off fashion.
After the contest, Smith pointed out that the game-winning blast was his first at any stage of his baseball career. He understandably deemed it a moment he will never forget.
The story gets better, as Smith ultimately obtained his home run ball from the Dodgers fan who caught it. According to David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports, the fan agreed to give it back in exchange for a Cody Bellinger autographed bat:
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) June 3, 2019
In most cases, fans that catch a historic home run are offered compensation by teams if they agree to give the ball back to the player who hit it.
However, fans are not obligated to give home run balls back, and at times, opt to keep them. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim slugger Albert Pujols’ tallied his 2,000th career RBI earlier this season via a solo home run, and the fan who caught the ball didn’t initially give it back.
For this particular event, there was a feel-good ending. Both sides were able to quickly work out a trade, and now, one of Los Angeles’ top prospects gets to forever cherish his first MLB home run with the actual ball in his possession.
The fan also came away from the trade in good standing, as he now can lay claim to owning an autographed bat from one of baseball’s biggest superstars in Bellinger.