LA Angels (Q&A): Fan who caught Ohtani 422-foot HR is a pro Ballhawk

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

When you bring your glove to the bleachers of a Major League Baseball game, the plan is to put it to good use. Hopefully a ball comes your way, but the odds are not likely. That is, unless you’re a professional ‘Ballhawk’. This was the case for Greg, an avid baseball fan who caught Shohei Ohtani’s 422-foot home run in the Angels 7-1 win over the Blue Jays on Friday.

Greg, 31, is no stranger to leaving a ballpark without having tracked down a baseball. As a member of the Ballhawk Community, Greg has attended 443 games and snagged 3,615 total baseballs in his career. He’s also been featured on Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays and he’s caught as many as 25 baseball in one game.

Through five games in 2021, Greg already has 53 total baseballs. The Ohtani home run was just one of nine balls he caught on the night between batting practice and the final pitch.

Greg’s full GameBalls statistics can be found here.

There’s something to be said about the art of a professional Ballhawk. Greg knows all right spots to be, and he’s traveled to many big-league parks around the country as he’s mastered his craft.

Angels: The fan who caught Ohtani’s 422-foot home run is a pro Ballhawk.

We got a chance to chat with Greg, where we learned more about his passion and the night he made an early case for Catch of the Year.

1) What were your thoughts when that ball left Ohtani’s bat and after you made the catch?

Greg:  “Off the bat, I was pretty sure it was coming right to me. I’ve seen how often Ohtani hits opposite field homers on high fly balls, so I positioned myself pretty close to where it landed. As long as it didn’t fall short, I knew I could catch it and it traveled well.”

“…afterwards I was ecstatic. I catch homers in batting practice fairly often but catching them in a game is a very different feeling. I caught Albert Pujols’ home run in Monterrey during the 2019 season and it was a similar feeling. Both of those guys are amazing, generational players and it’s so cool to have caught a homer on the fly from each of them. I feel very proud!”

2) Speaking of Monterrey, we noticed you were wearing an Angels-Astros Mexico Series T-Shirt. Did you go to that series and what other places have you traveled to see the Angels?

Greg: “Yes, I’ve seen the Angels in quite a few different ballparks and that was the most interesting of all of them.

…I’m actually more of a Major League Baseball fan than an Angels fan. I love the sport and the players more than any one team and I try to stay up to date on every team equally. I’m from New York and originally a Mets fan, but the Angels are definitely one of the more fun and likable teams at the moment. Ohtani is no exception and of course Trout, Rendon, Pujols, and the rest of their talent. I’ve been to a ton of Angels games over the years and have always liked them.”

3) Have you caught any other home runs, foul balls, etc. when attending MLB games?

Greg: “Yes! I’m a member of the ‘Ballhawk Community’, so I go to lots of MLB games around the country trying to catch as many baseballs as I can (batting practice and during games). Our community actually has a website dedicated to tracking the balls we catch and to stay in touch with each other.”

4) What are your thoughts on this current Angels team and your predictions for 2021?

Greg: The Angels seem like they should be very good this year, and Jared Walsh looks like he could be incredible. Before Opening Day, I thought they could definitely win the AL West and I think they’ve looked even better than that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make the ALCS. [Maybe we’ll see] Yankees-Angels again after all these years?”

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The next baseball game you’re watching or attending keep your eyes open, it could be Greg who’s making a catch in the stands.

Given his steak of 443-straight games having caught at least one ball, I’m sure it won’t be the last time we see him making a play.