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Tigers’ John Hicks wouldn’t have his 1st career home run ball without Justin Verlander

Hicks hit a three-run blast on Sunday, but needed a little help getting it back.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

There are few things in a player’s career more exciting than their first home run in the big leagues. It’s a moment that announces “I’ve arrived,” and the ball itself is a little piece of their personal history. Yet, with the ball long gone into the bleachers it can sometimes be a tricky process to get it back for the player to keep.

This becomes especially difficult when the home run occurs in enemy territory, like it did for John Hick on April 23 at Target Field in Minneapolis. Hicks, who had just been called up in that series when Miguel Cabrera was placed on the 10-day disabled list, made quite a splash against his former team, the Twins.

Often, an opposing team home run will be tossed back onto the field. In this case the fan held onto the ball and staff at Target Field had to work with him to get the prize back. What did the fan want in exchange? Well, an autographed Justin Verlander ball, naturally.

Verlander, who attended school and played high school ball with Hicks’ older brother, complied without realizing what he was helping with at first, by signing a ball at the request of the equipment manager. Hicks also signed a ball for the fan, and can now proudly display his first home run ball. But not without a little friendly teasing from Verlander first.

Of getting the home run ball back, Hicks said, “It’s special. The highlight of my career. To have that, to have forever, is pretty cool.”

Maybe when Verlander gets his first home run ball, Hicks can help return the favor.