ST. LOUIS — Cardinals fan Riley Kegley, 15, is now the happy owner of Albert Pujols’ 681st home run ball.
The Kegley family, from Rockford, Illinois, has three young boys. All of them opened Cardinals tickets in their Easter baskets Sunday morning for the game at American Family Field in Milwaukee.
Riley’s father, Justin Kegley, said he and his wife bought the tickets last minute on Saturday. They couldn’t attend their family’s Easter celebration out of town due to their son’s baseball game on Saturday. To make up for it, they decided to surprise their kids with tickets to Sunday’s Cardinals game.
“We opened our Easter baskets and got the news that we were going to Milwaukee for the game. Then we went to church, left from church, threw on our Cardinals gear, and went,” said Riley.
The family went to the game and moved from their seats in the 200s to the left-field stands in the third innings.
“We decided to move out to the left-field stands in the third inning because there were a lot of right-handed hitters. So, if there was going to be a home run ball, it was going to be in that area,” Riley said.
This time that plan worked out exactly how they wanted it to. When Pujols got up to bat, it soared to the Kegleys.
“I just started running that way, had to jump a couple of bleacher seats, but it was a close race between three of us. There was a little contact initiated by me, but you know, no mercy. You just got to get the ball,” Riley said.
“It was a good little scramble,” Justin said. “Riley was out there battling some grown men trying to get the ball and came out victorious.”
The ball Riley snagged tied the game and put three runs on the board for the Cardinals. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a W for the redbirds, but it’s a day the Kegleys will never forget.
Riley said he hasn’t let go of the ball since, except for one moment.
“It did not leave my side on the car trip home,” Riley said. “My mom tried to hold it, and I was not giving it up until I had to go to the restroom.”
He said he even tucked the ball into bed with him Sunday night.
American Family Field in Milwaukee is also the same stadium Riley got his first game ball back in 2014 while fully decked out in Cardinals gear.
Their family’s love for the Cardinals runs deep, and it’s even converted Riley’s mom into a Cardinals fan. She was once a Cubs fan, but we don’t have to talk about that.
Justin said when Riley was born in July 2006, his wife said if the Cardinals make it to the World Series, then their son Riley could be a Cardinals fan. Well, they didn’t just make it, but that’s also the year they won it all.
“They ended up winning the World Series, and it was incredible, and he’s been a Cardinals fan ever since,” Justin said.
Riley said his first-ever memory is going to a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium at a young age. Now, superfan Riley has a message for Albert.
“Hey, Albert. If you could, I’d really like that signed. It would make my year,” Riley said.
As Pujols races to the 700 mark, the Kegleys said they will need to be in the stands, and it’s possible many fans will want to stand by them, hoping their luck continues.