Vet med student catches McGwire’s 68th home run

Abbie Moeller

Baseballs fans across the country are watching as every swing of a bat could be history in the making this summer.

Heath Wiseman, a fourth-year veterinary medicine student at Iowa State, got closer than just watching when he caught Mark McGwire’s 68th home-run ball this past Saturday at Busch Stadium in Saint Louis.

Wiseman was in Saint Louis for a bachelor party that had been planned months before the home-run race was in the news, and the weekend series between the Expos and Cardinals was just part of the fun.

Because Wiseman has been a big baseball fan since he was young, the fun began for him with a crack of the bat.

“I got to see [McGwire’s home runs] 66 through 70. It was amazing. That’s something I’ll always have,” Wiseman said.

One of the debates for fans this summer has been what to do with a home-run ball.

Wiseman said he has not been offered any money for the ball so far, but said he would consider selling it if the price was right.

“I am not actively looking to sell it,” Wiseman said.

He said he would like to have the ball to show his children and grandchildren someday, but he said the story alone will be valuable to him.

Even now the story is good.

Wiseman said he was at the game with a group of about 25 friends. They were sitting in the left centerfield bleachers about 17 rows back. Wiseman was in the middle of the group.

“As soon as [McGwire] came up to the plate, everyone was on their feet,” Wiseman said. “Everyone was paying attention.”

Wiseman said McGwire hit a line drive almost straight toward him. Since he had his baseball glove, Wiseman caught it and was immediately covered by his friends and then the crowd.

“Everyone was grabbing for [the baseball],” Wiseman said.

One member of the group was knocked unconscious while trying to protect Wiseman but had no permanent injury from the incident, he said.

Soon, he said, his friends and the security guards recovered him from the bottom of the pile. About 10 guards then escorted him to a small room to confirm the ball.

The ball was identified by a stamped no. 64 and fluorescent markings that show up under a black light verifying Wiseman as the owner of McGwire’s 68th home-run ball.

Wiseman has attended many baseball games in his life, but said he has never caught even a foul ball before.

“For about 24 hours I had probably the most valuable piece of sports memorabilia [until McGwire hit his final home runs on Sunday],” Wiseman said.