The first home run baseball hit by a Cardinals player at the “new” Busch Stadium in St. Louis was purchased for $18,438 in a special single-item auction conducted by Lelands.com which ended May 18. The ball was caught by 18-year-old Jeff Fechter of Ballwin, Mo., who consigned it to Lelands.com in an effort to fund his impending college education.
The baseball holds extra special significance as it was hit by Albert Pujols against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 10, 2006. It was Pujols’ fourth round tripper of what is turning out to be an extraordinary season for the Cardinals first baseman.
“This is a very unique and historic baseball, not just because it was the first hit by a Cardinals player in their new stadium but primarily because it was hit by Pujols, a player that may go down in history as one of the greatest to ever play for the storied franchise,” said Josh Evans, founder of Lelands.com. “The owner of this baseball has a special piece of baseball history.”
It was truly fate that put Fechter in the position to catch the ball. As Pujols stepped to the plate, the lifetime Cardinals fan found himself far from the seats he originally purchased in Section 130 as he looked for his older brother, Joe. As the crack of the bat echoed through the park, all of those surrounding him rose from their seats with arms outstretched towards the sky. Just when it seemed the ball would fall short of his reach and fall into the hands of the patron in front of him, fate intervened. The gentleman he stood behind just could not handle the speed at which the ball was traveling and he bobbled the catch. The ball bounced to floor and rolled to the feet of an elated Fechter. Instinct took over and he pounced on the ball.
The ball is accompanied by a letter written by Fechter that describes the day’s events in his words, along with a St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper article from the following day.