Turner gets historic home run ball back from fan

To this day, the whereabouts of the single most important home run ball in Dodgers history – the Kirk Gibson walk-off home run ball from game-1 of the 1988 World Series – is still among baseball’s greatest unsolved mysteries. But the whereabouts of the second most important home run ball in Dodgers history – the bottom of the ninth inning, three-run, walk-off home run ball hit by Justin Turner in game-2 of the 2017 National League Championship Series on Sunday night – is no mystery at all.

Justin Turner has it.

Turners three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in game-2 of the 2017 NLCS on Sunday night is, without question, the biggest Dodger home run since Kirk Gibson’s historic home run in game-1 of the 1988 World Series. Incredibly, both were hit on October 15. (Photo credit – John E McCoy)

Lifelong Dodger fan and baseball memorabilia collector Keith Hupp not only caught Turner’s historic home run ball on Sunday night, he also he gave it back to the extremely popular Dodgers third baseman.

“As soon as JT hit it I knew it was a home run and it was coming straight towards me,” Hupp said. “But as it got closer, it started to tail away from me and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to reach it before it went into the area behind center field. Fortunately, I was and I caught it.”

Lifelong Dodger fan Keith Hupp made a perfect catch of Justin Turner’s exciting three-run walk-off home run which gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
(Video capture courtesy of TBS – Click on image to view video)

Hupp said that within seconds of catching the historic game-winning ball, hundreds of excited Dodger fans in the Left Field Pavilion came over to him and wanted to take selfies with he and his historic trophy.

“A security officer finally contacted me said the Dodgers wanted to talk to me about the ball, and I told him good, because I want to get out of here,” said Hupp. “They escorted me over by the bullpen area where a Dodger representative asked me what I wanted for the ball, and I told him that I hadn’t even had a minute to think about it.

“I told him that I would give the ball to Justin but that I would like to do it in person and have some photos taken with him,” Hupp added. “The guy was real brash and said, ‘it has to be done tonight because once the ball leaves the stadium there is no way to authenticate it.’ He also said, ‘that ball is too big for you to leave with it, we don’t want you to leave with it.’ He finally told me to wait right there and sure enough, he came back a few minutes later with Justin.

“JT also asked me what I wanted in return for the ball and I told him the same thing, that I hadn’t even had a minute to stop think about it,” Hupp continued. “Justin was really cool about it and said, ‘hey don’t worry about it right now, I’ll give you a call later’ and I handed him the ball and we hugged and shook hands.”

If the name Keith Hupp sounds familiar to you, it well should. Earlier this year, Hupp, a retired police captain, got the record-tying and record-breaking home run balls from Dodgers rookie phenom Cody Bellinger. What did Hupp do with those two irreplaceable and historic pieces of Dodgers history? He gave both of them back to Bellinger, of course. The difference, however, is that Hupp did not catch either of the two Bellinger balls. Instead, he bought them from the people who actually did get them and did so within seconds of them landing in the right field seats of Petco Park in San Diego on September 2 and 3 respectively.

As you might expect, a representative from the Dodgers also immediately contacted Hupp back then about working out a deal to get the two historic Bellinger balls back to give to the soon-to-be 2017 National League Rookie of the Year. And although Hupp did not do so immediately, he did so a week later during a brief pre-game ceremony at Dodger Stadium.

Keith Hupp (left) and his son Lindley pose with Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner after Hupp gave JT his historic home run ball back. (Photo courtesy of Keith Hupp)

But Hupp did catch Turner’s even more historic NLCS game-2 walk-off home run ball on Sunday night, which was not only witnessed by the 54,479 fans in attendance at a sold-out Dodger Stadium, but also by millions of viewers watching the nationally televised game on (wait for it…) Turner Broadcasting System (TBS).

Even though Hupp did not ask for anything in return for Turner’s historic home run ball, @redturn2 told Hupp that he would “Hook you up.” (Photo credit – Jon SooHoo)

But wait, there’s more!

For those who may remember, Turner also hit a home run in game-3 of last year’s NLCS at Dodger Stadium, that one off of Cubs ace Jake Arrieta. And you’ll never guess in a million years who caught that Justin Turner home run ball.

“I caught [Turner’s] NLCS game 3 home run last year, the one he hit off of Arrieta. What are the chances of that happening?” Hupp said. “JT remembered me from that one and I told him that this one means a ton to me than that one. He laughed and said ‘it means a ton to me too, I hit it! It’s my first walk-off home run and the biggest home run of my career!'”

But wait, there’s even more to this remarkable story!

“After I gave JT the ball, we took some photos of he, my son, and I. It was just the three of us down there,” Hupp said. “And just then, Kenley Jansen came out of an interview or something and Justin called him over, and we took some more photos with Justin and Kenley.

Hupp and Turner with NLCS game-2 winning pitcher Kenley Jansen.
(Photo courtesy of Keith Hupp)

Before parting ways, Hupp said that the popular Dodgers third baseman told him that he would ‘hook me up,’ but exactly what Turner meant by this is uncertain to the former police captain. But one has to suspect that Keith Hupp may soon be sporting a new Justin Turner jersey, and be the proud owner of an autographed baseball and bat.

Well done, Keith, well done indeed.

 

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3 Responses to “Turner gets historic home run ball back from fan”

  1. Evan Bladh says:

    This is a guy that definitely has some skills when it comes to being in the right place at the right time. I’m sure it is very calculated on his part. That was a great catch when you consider he was a step away from taking a 15-20 foot tumble into the center field backdrop. I’m glad the right fan caught it. Hopefully the “hook-up” with JT is worth it. Any chance Keith’s skills as a detective will help him come up with the missing Gibson ball? (I know, not a detective, but Police Capt.)

  2. CruzinBlue says:

    That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed as a Dodger fan. Being there must’ve been an out of body experience for those on hand. One thing’s for certain; I think Keith has mastered “punctual serendipity” in this life. Perhaps he should bottle it and sell it to the world . . . or at least go buy a lottery ticket this week!

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