On Thursday in Detroit, Angels slugger Albert Pujols became -- depending on your method of record-keeping -- either the third or fifth player in MLB history to ( ). The record-setting ribbie came on Pujols' sixth home run of the season:
Here's the unofficial career RBI leaderboard:
Pujols' uncertain standing on the all-time leaderboard is due to the fact that the RBI didn't become an official stat until 1920. While we can pretty accurately back-count RBI, MLB and Elias don't count RBI before 1920. That means Cap Anson's RBI are off their board entirely (his playing career ended following the 1897 season), and Babe Ruth's total is reduced by more than 224 (his retroactive RBI total from 1914 through 1919). And that's why Pujols is third on MLB's RBI leaderboard but fifth on that of Baseball-Reference.
As you can see the ball landed in the less than packed left field seats at Comerica Park. As Tony Paul of the Detroit News writes, a Tigers fan named Ely Hydes -- a 33-year-old law student who lives in Detroit -- eventually secured the ball.
As is standard practice when a fan retrieves a milestone ball, stadium security got involved, and officials from both teams bargained with him to get the ball for the player of note. In this instance, Hydes wanted no part of it. In the end, he resisted all entreaties and kept the ball either to give to his brother or to his son, who'll be born soon. More from Paul:
The problem, said Hydes and his friends, was that the team representatives, including the Tigers' head of security, made a hard sell from the beginning, putting the pressure on Hydes. Among the interactions, they informed him that per MLB policy, because the ball was hit into the seats and because of chain-of-custody concerns, it could not be officially authenticated.
That, of course, meant that Hydes would have trouble selling the ball at auction, but Hydes insists he has no interest in doing that ("I don't want money," he said). Paul's story has an interesting recap of what happens to a fan when he or she catches a milestone ball and how teams try to persuade them to hand it over, so give it a read.
As for Pujols, here's one piece of memorabilia he'll have to do without.