Tom Sherrill, a 29-year-old Air Force staff sergeant from Pomona who is in town for computer training, retrieved the ball Pujols hit for his milestone homer into the left-center field seats in Nationals Park and presented it to the Angels slugger after the game.
"I've been an Angels fan for 20 years, and I had no intentions other than to give the ball to Albert," Sherrill said. "They gave me this cool hat and made it sound like more stuff might come later, but I'll be happy with anything they give me."
Sherrill wasn't sitting in the outfield seats to begin the game, but when Pujols hit his 499th homer in the first inning, the fan moved in an effort to position himself to catch the ball.
But it still took some luck — and some tough luck on the part of a fan named Chris Gordon, a Buffalo native — for Sherrill to get the ball.
"As he hit the ball, right off the bat I could tell it was going over my head, so I took off sprinting up the stairs," Sherrill said. "As I got close to it, I saw Chris coming down and thought 'It's over, he's going to get the ball.' But he squared up on it and blocked it, and it came right to me."
When asked who "Chris" was, Sherrill, who was outside the Angels' clubhouse waiting to meet Pujols, pointed to Gordon and said, "He's this gentleman over here with the welt."
The fan who caught the ball from homer No. 499 also gave it to Pujols, who said both would go into his trophy case at home.
"They were pretty honest to give them back," Pujols said. "I appreciate that."