Inge recovers Perry's memento
Game ball from reliever's first save takes long journey to locker
DETROIT -- Ryan Perry has the game ball from his first Major League save sitting in his locker in the Tigers' clubhouse. But it took quite a journey to get there. The end of Saturday's 4-2 win over the Indians was merely the start of it.
It began when Brandon Inge ran down Luis Valbuena's popup behind the Detroit dugout for the game's final out. As the crowd of more than 35,000 roared and Perry received congratulations, Inge let his momentum continue toward the third-base stands, where he tried to give the ball to a young fan.
Much to Inge's shock, the kid waved him off.
"No, no, I already have one," Inge recalled the boy saying.
The look of surprise on Inge's face could be seen on the telecast before the camera panned away.
"Most impressive kid I've ever seen in my life," Inge said. "That's an honest kid right there."
Inge found another young fan nearby who hadn't gotten a ball yet, and gave it to her. Then he headed back to the middle of the diamond, where the Tigers were still slapping hands --including Perry.
"As I'm high-fiving him," Inge said, "he said, 'Hey, got that ball?'"
That was the first time Inge realized it was Perry's first big league save. Perry had been around for most of last season, so Inge thought he had a save by now.
"Come on," Inge said, "I don't keep up with my own stats."
That was also the moment he realized he'd better scramble if he had any chance of getting that ball back.
Inge went back to where he gave up the ball and found the child. It took some explaining, but he worked out a swap. Inge got the ball back, and the kid received an autographed cracked bat Inge had from Opening Day.
It worked out well in the end, but despite his embarrassment, Inge still had some fun with it. He initially put a sponge ball in Perry's locker with an autograph and the date of the game.
"I'm going to tell Perry, 'This kid didn't even want your ball,'" Inge joked.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.