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How that great home run photo came to be

Rob Bradford
August 04, 2017 - 12:21 am

There are plenty of home runs, and plenty of photos. But then there was this photo from this home run.

When you have a chance to clarify history, it's worth a walk out to the left field wall.

The photo from the Boston Herald's Matt Stone was too perfect. Without it we would have had just another Rafael Devers home run. There would have been little distinction thanks to most of the 37,442 in attendance cheering in unison. Even if it was just a three-second story there, there was a story. So here it is ...

First inning. One runner on base. Miguel Gonzalez on the mound for the White Sox. Devers steps up and lofts a fly ball he later admitted he didn't think had a chance to clear the left field wall. As the ball approaches two sections ot the right of the first light tower, the participants brace themselves.

The ball is headed straight for Jim Foley, who is lined up in the second row of his Green Monster seats along with his Bedford, New Hampshire buddies. Just to the right of white-haired Foley (who was wearing the green and white shirt) is David Hale (blue shirt), while Joe Maiola (also wearing a blue shirt) and Brandon Barrett (glasses around his neck) resided to the left.

There is a couple to the right of the foursome, desperately trying to get their hands on what appeared to be destined for Foley's hands. Their names are unknown. Why? Because they were only sitting in those seats for that inning. The ticket-holders -- Melinda Johnson, Linda Dacorta, Dave Lombardi and Corey Johnson -- had won a contest to spend the first inning inside the left field wall, thereby missing out on the home run-induced chaos.

But as the ball flew in, Foley, perhaps distracted by Hale or an enormouse catchers mitt that had been thrust in front of him (we'll get to that in a second), had the prize clang off his hands and bounce towards the row in front of him, leaving Hale as the last member of the group to secure the homer for their group.

"I didn't want to get in front of [Foley> because I wanted him to catch it and I was going to be his backup," explained Maiola, doing his best to surface an alibi for having his eyes closed in both photos.

As it turned out, the catchers mitt belonged to a father from New Jersey by the name of Steve Dill. Thanks to tickets from his brother-in-law, he had brought his family -- including wife, Randi, son, Aidan, and daughter, Shannon -- to Fenway for their first experience atop the Green Monster.

With Randi avoiding her diving husband, and Steve trying to collect himself after missing his initial attempt, both Aidan and Shannon positioned themselves for the rebound. Standing in front of his sister, the 12-year-old catcher/first baseman/outfielder took advantage of his instincts and hauled in his very first major league catch.

"I knew I was going to get it," Aidan said.

To the victors goes the spoils. To everybody else? A memorable night on social media.

"As that kid said," Maiola added. "We were famous for the wrong reason."

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