The fan who caught Albert Pujols' 2,000th-RBI baseball donated it to Cooperstown in August.

By Jenna West
September 24, 2019

Three months after catching Albert Pujols' 2,000th-RBI baseball, Tigers fan Ely Hydes has donated it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in August in memory of his late son.

Hydes told The Detroit News he took a trip with family and friends to Cooperstown, N.Y. on Aug. 11-12 to give the ball to the museum. He donated it in the name of Cyrus Arlo Maloney, his son who died suddenly at 21 months old in June 2018. Hydes said he plans to take his newborn daughter Violet to Cooperstown in the future and show her the baseball that honors Cyrus, named after Cy Young.

When the ball is on display, it will say it's donated by Cy and the "people of Detroit." Hydes, who moved to Detroit after growing up in Oregon, said, "The city's given a lot to me." 

On May 9, Hydes caught the ball at Comerica Park when Pujols hit a solo shot during the third inning of a Tigers-Angels game. The home run marked Pujols' 2,000th career RBI and placed him in elite company with Hank Aaron (2,297) and Alex Rodriguez (2,086) as only the third baseball player to reach the milestone since 1920.

After catching the ball, Tigers security approached Hydes, a law student at Wayne State, about giving it back. He told The Detroit News he didn't give it up because he didn't like being pressured by the Tigers to do so. After news of his decision went public, fans criticized Hydes on social media for not handing the ball back. He offered to give it to Pujols the following day, but the veteran first baseman said fans have a right to keep balls caught at games.

Hydes told the newspaper he decided to keep the ball in a safety deposit box at a credit union and received several inquiries about it. One fan offered to pay him $50,000 for the ball, while former Tigers outfielder Kirk Gibson met Hydes and suggested it could be an auction item for his annual Parkinson's research gala.

Hydes said he has no regrets for donating the baseball to the Hall of Fame or not taking any money for it.

"Not at all," he said. "People always ask that, 'Was it hard to give it up?'"

"No, honestly. I was aware I was never going to touch it again."

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