With a little luck and some analytics, Braves fan catches baseball phenom's first Major League home run

Atlanta Braves fan Joe Webster had been looking forward to Ronald Acuna Jr.'s major league debut for five years....

Posted: Apr 28, 2018 2:47 AM
Updated: Apr 28, 2018 2:47 AM

Atlanta Braves fan Joe Webster had been looking forward to Ronald Acuna Jr.'s major league debut for five years.

And in the second game of his MLB career, the 20-year-old outfielder gave Webster the thrill of a lifetime.

Braves fan Joe Webster takes a day trip to Cincinnati for a game

Webster meets Acuna after catching his first home run ball

At Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, in a moment that involved some amazing preplanning, Webster caught Acuna's first career home run in Atlanta's 7-4 win Thursday against the Reds.

"Unbelievable," Webster said to CNN's Andy Scholes.

Webster and a friend decided to take a day trip to the closest MLB stadium to Atlanta, get some autographs and catch a ballgame. That would be the Reds' ballpark, around 450 miles away from the Braves' home of SunTrust Park.

"And then Acuna got called up, and that just made it even better," Webster, now back in Atlanta, said Friday.

Webster and his friend left Atlanta and arrived in Cincinnati early Thursday morning. They got their autographs. And then, sitting in the stadium, it hit them.

"Let's look at a spray chart from the minors and see where he might hit his first major league homer," Webster said. "I just happened to put myself in the right spot."

Webster was in the second deck, while his friend was positioned in the lower deck. When Acuna connected on the pitch from Homer Bailey, there was no doubt it was gone, and Webster saw it heading for him.

"I almost misjudged it," he said. "I almost went down one row because I thought it was going to fall a little short. But when it came off the bat, my thought was, 'Oh my god,' because it was coming right at me."

After making the catch, Webster grabbed his bag and started running, heading for the concourse to find his friend.

"Once I ended up getting all the way down the stairs, we definitely recreated the John Smoltz-Greg Olson jump from the early '90s because it just a moment of sheer emotion," Webster said.

After the game, he got to meet Acuna, listed No. 2 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list. Webster would not reveal what, if anything, Acuna or the Braves did for him in giving the ball to the athlete.

But he did say he wanted to be the one to give Acuna the baseball and congratulate him.

"More so than anything, I am just overjoyed that I was able to put the ball in his hand and give the guy a hug," Webster said.

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