When Daniel Botello was 8 years old, his father took him to his first Royals baseball game. It grew into a tradition, of sorts, something a father and son bonded over every summer.
The dozens of trips to Kauffman Stadium were absent of only one thing.
A souvenir baseball.
“Never could catch a foul ball, a home run ball, anything,” Botello said.
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More than two decades later, a milestone baseball landed in his bare hands Thursday.
Botello caught the first home run of Royals infielder Christian Colon’s career Thursday — a three-run blast in the ninth inning of a 14-5 Royals loss that reached the seats and fell just shy of the fountains in left field. Botello is taking credit for the latter — saving the baseball from a splash.
And as it turns out, Colon is the beneficiary. After catching the ball, Botello almost immediately entered into a negotiation to give it to Colon as a keepsake.
“It’s his first home run. I can’t keep it from him, man,” Botello said. “They asked me what I wanted for it. I said (that) I just want to hand it to him personally and get a couple of pictures with him with my son.”
A small price for Colon.
He signed a baseball bat and handed it to Botello, along with a few Royals hats, one of them for Botello’s son, 7-year-old Daniel Jr. They all posed for pictures just outside the Royals clubhouse.
Botello called it a moment “I’ll never forget,” and for Colon is equally relieving. The homer was his first in 293 at-bats.
“It’s a big monkey off my back for sure,” Colon said. “Hopefully there’s many more.”