The ball that outfielder Willie Calhoun hit for his first career home run — off former Cy Young winner and MVP Justin Verlander — was retrieved by the Texas Rangers, but nothing comes free these days.
Nor should it. A fan who catches a souvenir deserves something for surrendering it to a player. All the fan wanted was a signed bat and a Texas Rangers hat from Adrian Beltre, who gladly obliged.
“I need to go thank him for that,” said Calhoun, who will keep the ball in the family. “I’ll give it to my dad, just because he — both my parents — have been there for me since I was a little kid. This is probably one of the bigger moments for me in my life.”
Calhoun, who also singled off Verlander, was the Rangers’ star on an otherwise miserable Wednesday, when the Houston Astros completed a three-game sweep with a 12-2 victory. The Rangers will finish below .500 for only the second time since 2009 and are sinking quickly toward the bottom of the division after losing six straight games.
With the Rangers out of contention, Calhoun will be on the field and getting a head start in his bid for an everyday spot in 2018. The Rangers like his smarts and his hitting skills, which they have seen shining through even in a limited sample size.
“This is a young kid that the more that we see him, and the more that he’s going to be out there, you learn where his hitting instincts are and how he sees the ball,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Every at-bat has been a competitive at-bat for him all the way through.”