Fan who caught Albert Pujols milestone talks keeping perspective after tragic loss

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

In a world that's fueled by the race to judgment, it becomes difficult to keep life's events and experiences in the proper perspective.

For Ely Hydes, the Detroit Tigers fan whose lucky grab catapulted him into the sports spotlight last week, life's experiences have made that difficult task his primary focus.

Hydes, 33, has become known as the fan who caught and kept Albert Pujols' milestone 2,000 RBI baseball. But as we've learned this week, there's a lot more to Hydes than fame, money or being made to feel important. His mission is to value experiences, hold memories and find ways to carry on one year after the death of his 21-month-old son.

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Speaking to the Detroit News this week, Hydes opened up on what has been an unfathomably tough 12 months for his family. He also touched on the role baseball played in bringing his family together during his childhood and keeping him moving forward as a grieving father.

Putting life and baseball into perspective

It was last June that Hydes' young son, Cy, developed an infection that effectively stopped his body from producing white blood cells. It was less than 48 hours from the time the infection was noticed until Cy was gone.

It's a heart-breaking experience that has changed the way Hydes looks at everything, baseball especially.

During their brief time together, Hydes says he took his young son to at least 25 Tigers games. Even though Cy was too young to really understand, it was a way for them to spend time together and bond.

"It sounds stupid, because he wasn't even 2, but Cy loved baseball,” Hydes told the Detroit News. “He would play it, he would watch it, he would light up around it. I took him to all those games, and never had to leave a game early.

Those are the moments he treasures, because those are the moments that can’t be replaced. That’s why when he ended up in possession of Pujols’ milestone, he didn’t relent despite offers from the Angels and Tigers that most fans would have jumped at. The baseball and holding on to another memory that can’t be replaced held more value to him than any dollar or autograph.

Hydes says he still has no plans to sell the baseball, but could donate it to the Baseball Hall of Fame so that others can share his memory.

Another possibility is donating the baseball to charity. After receiving a personal letter from Kirk Gibson last week, Hydes says he is considering Gibson’s Parkinson’s foundation.

From The Detroit News:

There's one other possibility: Hydes might consider giving the ball to a charity, perhaps even Kirk Gibson's Parkinson's foundation, which could auction it off at its annual fundraiser in October.

Gibson invited Hydes to meet with him in a letter last week in which Gibson said, in part, "Thank you for standing up for yourself, being your own man and doing what you feel is the right (thing) to do. You caught it. You keep it. That's the rule in my ballpark."

Tigers fan Ely Hydes talks about young son's death and keeping life and baseball in perspective. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Tigers fan Ely Hydes talks about young son's death and keeping life and baseball in perspective. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Baseball family and a new addition

According to Hydes, his father owned a card shop and took the family to ballparks across the country when he was growing up. However, he admits he was only along for the ride at that time. His baseball fandom didn’t start growing until he reached his 20s.

Since then, it’s become a huge part of his life.

As the Detroit News story notes, baseball even played a role in his son’s name.

But in his 20s, he finally got the itch, and he became an avid fan of the game, so much that, yes, Cy is named after legendary pitcher Cy Young.

More family baseball experiences are sure to follow. Hydes revealed that his wife is expecting the couple’s second child "any day now."

The Detroit News story also delves into Hydes’ emotions upon returning to the ballpark after his son’s death, and his thought process during the 24 hours that immediately followed catching the Pujols home run.

It’s a heart-wrenching story that provides perspective, while hopefully reminding us how important it is to keep perspective.

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