Give this to Joey Votto: He knows All-Star history when he sees it.
According to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Votto immediately instructed a team rep to do anything necessary to retrieve the ball that Reds teammate Zack Cozart hit for a single in the third inning of Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.
Not only was it Cozart’s first All-Star hit, it was the first hit of any kind for a Cincinnati batter since 2010. The Reds had gone a combined 0-for-25 since Scott Rolen hit a seventh-inning single off Phil Hughes at the 2010 game in Anaheim.
After being lined into left field, Cozart’s ball was returned to Dellin Betances, who served up a foul ball to Charlie Blackmon. A security guard casually tossed the ball to a 13-year-old fan named Nick Castagna in the stands, drawing Votto’s attention and piquing his interest.
From the Enquirer:
Votto alerted the Marlins public relations department, telling them he’d like to get the ball, Cozart’s first All-Star hit. Votto told Rob Butcher, the Reds media relations director, to go to his locker in the National League clubhouse and grab anything and he’d sign it to exchange for the ball. The kid, 13-year-old Nick Castagna, ended up with a signed Votto bat and two signed All-Star baseballs. Cozart got a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Votto knows how special that first All-Star hit can be because he’s surprisingly still waiting for one. He’s 0-for-9 over his five All-Star appearances, though he did draw a walk for the National League in the 10th inning before being stranded at the end of the game.
(Because we know you’re wondering: Pete Rose didn’t have the best All-Star average, either. The Hit King went 7-for-33 over his 16 All-Star appearances with only two extra-base hits.)
The ball isn’t the only thing that Cozart will receive from Votto out of this All-Star Game, of course. As has been widely reported, Cozart will receive a pet donkey after Votto promised Cozart one if he made his first All-Star Game.
Cozart also received a special pair of donkey shoes before Tuesday’s game, a customized gift ordered by another teammate.
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