HOUSTON — If you were among the millions watching Game 6 of the World Series at home, the last you saw of Atlanta Braves slugger Jorge Soler’s home run ball was when it disappeared over the Minute Maid Park railroad tracks into the night.
That was what Manuel Ramos saw, too, while he watched the game from his brother Richard’s apartment balcony. But he had seen it a few seconds earlier, too. That apartment happens to be across the street from Minute Maid Park. It also happens to have a view into the stadium when the roof is open — as it was Tuesday, for one of the only times all season.
And so after Manuel and his brother watched the ball leave the yard, they looked down. And that’s when they noticed it sitting on the street outside of the brick building known as 500 Crawford.
Soler’s three-run shot traveled an estimated 446 feet from home plate, landed on an awning outside the park, rolled off to the right and fell to the ground inside some fencing that closed off the stadium from the neighborhood. That’s how it ended up in view of the balcony. “It just laid on the sidewalk there,” Richard told ESPN a few innings later.
So within minutes, Richard’s wife, Shawnda, and Manuel took to the street. Manuel guessed it took them about eight minutes to get down there — and then they discovered that the fenced-off area was inaccessible from where they were.
“I was talking to security, like, ‘Please, just escort me over there,” Shawnda said.
That conversation turned out to be the moment Manuel needed. As the security guards spoke with her, he jumped at his opportunity. Literally. “I guess I distracted them,” Shawnda said. “I didn’t even do it on purpose. I didn’t even know he came down [with me].”
Manuel jumped the fence, grabbed the ball, half hid it in his shirt and ran back up to their viewing party. It was then, they said, that security began looking for it — but to no avail.
As lifelong Astros fans, the group upstairs was disappointed in the home run but excited by owning a game-winning home run ball.
“This is the first one I’ve seen leave the park,” Richard said. “The roof is almost never open. We want to burn it if the Braves win.”
The Braves did win, of course, but Richard is unlikely to follow through, not considering the potential value in his souvenir.
“How about $1 million?” Manuel said, only half joking. “I’m not impulsive. I’ll hold on to it.”
The brothers said the only souvenirs they own are a couple of seats from the old Astrodome — and it’s not like this ball has any sentimentality attached to it because the home run propelled the Braves to an easy win and a World Series title over the Astros.
So if Soler wants the baseball, they’re listening.
“No one has contacted me yet,” Manuel said.