Security guard Babilonia got A-Rod's 600th HR

New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez presents security gaurd

New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez presents security gaurd Frankie Babilonia with a signed baseball bat after his game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Babilonia retrieved Rodriguez's 600th home run ball and gave it back to him in return for a bat. (Aug. 4, 2010) (Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)

After all the outfield seating area tickets bought the last two weeks in hopes of catching Alex Rodriguez's 600th home run ball, it turned out the best place to be was sitting next to Babe Ruth.

When Rodriguez blasted Shaun Marcum's 85-mph, 2-and-0 fastball to dead centerfield with two outs in the first inning Wednesday, it wasn't a fan that caught the milestone ball, but the netting above Monument Park.

The guy who retrieved the ball was a 23-year-old Yankees security guard named Frankie Babilonia who was just in the right place at the right time.

"My post is centerfield and, at the time, the guy who's in Monument Park was on break, so I was relieving him," Babilonia said. "So our duty is, if he hits that home run, you have to retrieve it and give it to our superiors, and that's what I did."

Babilonia, a Lower East Side resident who's been working security at the Stadium for two years, said "the guy" he was filling in for was probably a little miffed he took his break when he did.

Not 10 minutes from when he took over, Babilonia saw the shot heading for him and went into retrieval mode. He said he never thought about pocketing the ball for a possible hefty payday.

"Actually no," Babilonia said. "I like doing my job. I don't want to put my job at risk at all."

After the game, he posed for pictures with Rodriguez and received a signed bat. He's said hello to Rodriguez in the past a few times, but never really met him.

Was the lucky security guard a fan of the newest member of the 600-home run club?

"I'm actually [a] Jeter [fan], but they're both on top," he said.

Not only did Babilonia get to meet Rodriguez, but he got a little taste of what it was like to be a big-league player. Surrounded by cameras, tape recorders and reporters for about five minutes after the postgame exchange with Rodriguez, Babilonia didn't seem to necessarily understand the fuss and kept repeating over and over that he was only doing his job.

"I'm very nervous," Babilonia said. "My phone's probably blowing up right now. I just hope a lot of people are not at my door knocking and all this."

The situation couldn't have played out any better for the Yankees, who now don't have to worry about bartering bats or jerseys with a fan to get the ball back. It also couldn't have been better poetry for Rodriguez, whose milestone baseball landed among the legends in Monument Park.

And it surely couldn't have played out better for Babilonia, who woke up this morning expecting to do nothing more than man his post.

"I'll never forget," he said. "Later on in the years, if I ever have children, I'll let 'em know I was the one who caught the six hundred ball and I handed it back to A-Rod."

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