Fan returns ball to Travis Ishikawa

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO -- A lifelong San Francisco fan had a piece of team history in his hands Thursday night: the home run ball that sent the San Francisco Giants to the World Series.

Then he gave it back.

Frank Burke, who owns a transmission repair business in Oakdale, said that he wanted the hitter, Travis Ishikawa, to have the ball.

"I believe in karma," he told The Associated Press. "I didn't hit that ball ....if anybody's going to have that ball in their game room or trophy case, it's going to be the guy who hit it."

Burke said he hadn't planned on keeping the ball. He keeps home run balls from his high school days in his own trophy case.

"They're still important to me, they're part of my memories," he said. "So why would I think that he (Ishikawa) wouldn't want the same thing?"

So after having the ball authenticated by a Giants official, and being told that Ishikawa wanted it back, Burke went down to the clubhouse area and handed it over. Ishikawa shook hands, thanked him, and gave him a signed bat in return.

Burke said Giants officials asked him what he would like and he suggested World Series tickets but was told that was unlikely.

After doing a media interview the next morning, however, he got a call from the Giants. Burke now has four tickets to Game 3 of the World Series at San Francisco's AT&T Park on Friday night. It will be the Giants' first home game against the Kansas City Royals.

Burke plans on taking his friend, Greg Leutza, who is battling cancer.

The two were at Thursday's game because Burke wanted to do something special for Leutza and went searching for tickets after the Giants won the NL Division Series.

Ishikawa's drive came their way as they sat above the stadium's right field wall in the ninth inning with two Giants on base.

As the ball sped toward him, Burke thought to himself: "Soft hands, soft hands. Don't let this thing bounce back on the field."

The ball went off his left hand but he was able to grab it with his right.

"The whole place erupted," Burke said. "It was a walk-off home run. We were going to the World Series!" Other fans clustered around.

"I couldn't move from where I was because everyone around me wanted to touch the ball, take pictures with the ball. I must have taken 300 selfies in 15 minutes," he said.

After meeting Ishikawa and turning over the ball, Burke and Leutza walked out of the clubhouse "like two little kids, hootin' and hollerin'," he said.

But Burke said the ball and the bat weren't the things he treasured most.

"Just the memory for me and my buddy, that's priceless," he said. "That meant more to me than anything else will."

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