Texas Rangers fans remember this play. It's at least top five on their "Reasons to hate Josh Hamilton" list. Oakland Athletics fans remember it too. It's the error that Hamilton made in the final regular season game of 2012, which, in part, allowed the A's to win the American League West. It was 5-5 when Hamilton dropped this fly ball, 7-5 after and 12-5 when the game ended.
We know what happened to the A's — they went on to the ALDS and lost to the Detroit Tigers in five games. We know what happened to both the Rangers (eliminated in a wild card game) and Hamilton (he's a much richer Los Angeles Angel). But what about the ball? Would you believe the A's sold it in an online auction?
As first reported by Casey Pratt of CSN Bay Area, the winning bid was $1,280. The team says the new owners is an A's fan from Merced, Calif.
Before the ball went up for auction Pratt wrote the Athletics' process of cataloging memorabilia and saving it for auction:
[Dominic] Arotzarena is the A's memorabilia authenticator. He had to follow every move of the ball from the moment it clanked off Hamilton's glove. Recognizing it could be something special, he tracked the ball until it was out of the game, authenticated it, and set it aside.
"When I got that ball I didn't think of the significance," Arotzarena said. "That was dropped by Hamilton. That ball changed the whole game. That play was the game changer."
If he took an eye off the ball for a moment, or lost track of it, he couldn't confirm it's authenticity and then it would be lost amongst the thousands of other baseballs at the stadium.
Money raised from the ball's auction goes toward the A's Community Fund, which support local charities. At least Hamilton — who had the Angels pay part of his new $123 million contact directly to his charitable foundation — might be happy to know his blunder means more money for charity. Rangers fans? They can still fume.