05/11/2003 10:58 PM ET
Ball catcher heaven-sent
ARLINGTON -- Father John Collet will have an interesting story to tell in his next sermon.
The professor at Holy Trinity Seminary at the University of Dallas caught Rafael
Palmeiro's 500th home run in the seventh inning Sunday, and promptly returned the ball to the first baseman. A grateful Palmeiro signed several items and gave them to the Catholic priest.
"It was a surprise," said Collet, who caught the ball with both hands in his chest. "First of all, I was submerged in all these people, and then all of a sudden I looked around and there were all these policemen all around. I was escorted out very quickly. I didn't really have time to pay much attention."
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Father Collet frequently visits The Ballpark in Arlington, and said the scramble for the ball by the surrounding fans caused a minor scrape on his left hand. But even with the minor gash, he did not loosen his grip on what he knew would be a prized possession for Palmeiro.
"I had a quite a few people reaching for it. I just said, 'You won't get it'," Collet said. "There was a lot of action. I never thought I'd be in the middle of action like this."
Palmeiro, who is Catholic, was visibly relieved when he heard a priest had caught the ball. He shook Collet's hand, thanked him for his kindness, and the pair shared a few laughs before a group of local media.
When asked, the mild-mannered priest said he paid $20 for his ticket in right field."Too much," Palmeiro said.
"I think I'll have a few free tickets now," the priest quipped.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its