• Fan discusses excitement of catching HR ball at Pirates playoff game


    PITTSBURGH - The Pirates' first postseason game in more than two decades was even more exciting for three lucky fans who caught home run balls.

    One of those fans, Dave Hilderbrand, talked to Channel 11's Gordon Loesch on Wednesday. Hilderbrand explained why he willingly gave back the ball.

    Hilderbrand, a self-described big sports fan, caught the second home run of the night -- the first of Russell Martin's two dingers.

    "There was about 15 hands that went up for the ball, so there might have been some ricochet off people's hands, and then I caught it," Hilderbrand recalled.

    Hilderbrand and his wife posed with their valuable souvenir moments after catching it.

    "About 10-15 minutes of fame, probably about 200 high-fives with kids, grandparents and parents of all ages," he said. "To actually catch the ball, the energy level was at an all-time high."

    After the initial excitement, Hilderbrand gave the ball to Pirates guest relations, hoping to get it back with Martin's mark of approval.

    "What they shared with me is he would sign the ball and it would be sent back to me and they would authenticate it. I trust in the Pirates word," he said laughing.

    The Pirates organization told Channel 11 News that fans are under no obligation to return a ball once it's left the playing field.

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