Lucky catch: SWFL teen becomes part of history at Rays game

Published: June 23, 2021 5:01 PM EDT
Roan Hoefling, a Canterbury School baseball player, caught top MLB prospect Wander Franco's first home run ball on Tuesday night in Tampa. (Photo courtesy of Amy Hoefling)

A 15-year-old from Southwest Florida made a lucky catch at the Tampa Bay Rays game Tuesday night, and it was probably more determination than just luck.

Roan Hoefling watched history – and became a part of it. He said he knew he’d make the catch, no matter what.

“There was some pretty big people in that first row that I had to get over and I remember I landed on somebody and I came down.”

The Canterbury School infielder and pitcher got seats in left field for the Rays’ game against the Boston Red Sox. He wanted to be there to see the Major League debut of Wander Franco, baseball’s No. 1 prospect. When Franco hit the ball right at him, Roan’s baseball training kicked in.

“Can’t let anybody take it from me,” he said.

Video of the moment shows Roan, in a Rays jersey, lean over the guy next to him and snag the home run ball. It was a historic moment for both.

“I just jumped for it and I was like, when I landed, I saw it in my glove and I was like completely speechless,” Roan said.

Roan gave the ball back to Franco after the game. In return, the Rays phenom posed for photos and gave him a lot of Rays swag, including a signed bat.

“That milestone is just the beginning; I feel like to be a part of that just makes me want to join him in going to the MLB and trying to make my own milestones.”

The teen has big league dreams of his own, but catching a home run ball was a dream come true in itself.

Roan told WINK News that Tuesday night will always be one of the best nights of his life.

In his postgame interview, Franco said the ball will go back home to his family in the Dominican Republic.