SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Travis Ishikawa’s line drive headed out toward right field and San Francisco Giants fans immediately began celebrating.
Frank Burke kept tracking the ball’s trajectory.
He knew the Shot That Shook the Bay was headed his way and he kept watching it. Burke told himself to keep the ball in front of him. When the hit cleared the wall for the pennant-winning home run in Game 5 of the NLCS, sending the Giants to the World Series, he knocked the ball down with his left hand and snatched it in his right hand.
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Little did he know that catch would make him an instant celebrity – and give him the chance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday night before Game 3.
”My life has not been normal by any means,” Burke said of the game on Oct. 16. ”I guess I was naive.”
The owner of A.G. Transmission Repair in Oakdale, California, and a life-long Giants’ fan, has been inundated with requests for pictures and interviews.
He and his wife, Michelle, enjoyed Friday’s game from a luxury suite.
His four children became celebrities, the Giants made him a custom jersey, which he wore throwing out the first pitch, and he was given World Series tickets.
”It has been a media blitz and it’s the same old story every time,” he said. ”I never took a selfie before and now it feels like I’ve taken 5,000 selfies.”
The left-hander, who plays first base in softball leagues, threw a ceremonial strike to Ishikawa after acknowledging the fan’s ovation and pounding his chest as a signal to his friends and family.
”It was an ecstatic feeling just to look around at the crowd,” Burke said. ”I tried to block out how huge a stage it was.”
Burke and good friend Greg Leutza, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer less than a year ago, were together in the right field arcade at AT&T Park when Ishikawa delivered his long ball.
After catching the big hit, Burke shared the moment with the surrounding crowd and then grabbed an usher who escorted him to a booth in center field. Burke was asked if he had any witnesses and replied something to the effect of ”Oh, about 40,000 people saw it.”
”I knew right away I was going to give the ball back to him,” Burke said of Ishikawa. ”The group of fans around me were great and no one tried to grab it. They all wanted to touch it though, and get pictures with it. A knowledgeable young man seating next to me suggested I get it authenticated.”
There were people who thought he could get up to $10,000 for the ball but Burke would have nothing of it.
”I’m just so glad to get to meet Travis and I’m thankful that he and I are connected in Giants history,” Burke said. ”I went down to the clubhouse and got to see the celebration. It’s been surreal.”