Simpson grad scores Series ball

by Zach James

Sometimes being in the right spot at the right time can change someone’s life; just ask Simpson graduate David Huyette.

Huyette was going with a friend to attend Game Six of the World Series hoping to see the Cardinals live another day as they were down to elimination due to the Texas Rangers’ 3-2 game lead.

Huyette, who graduated from Simpson in 1994, caught the game-winning ball off the bat of the soon-to-be World Series Most Valuable Player David Freese.

The eerie part: Freese may not have called his shot in the 12th inning, but Huyette did.

“I didn’t know how I predicted it,” Huyette said. “I turned to Jeremy (Reiland) during Freese’s at-bat and said, ‘this is the one.'”

Actually, Huyette had a hunch beforehand. He sent a text message to close family and friends prior to going to the game asking to watch the game to “see us catch the game winning home run.”

Sure enough, he found himself with one of the most prized possessions in recent baseball memory.

After committing an error earlier in the game, Freese had delivered a game-tying triple in the ninth inning to keep the Cardinals alive for at least one more inning.

St. Louis had forgiven Freese following the triple, but after the 11th inning heroics from one swing of the bat, Freese sent the Cardinals from near death to a guaranteed shot at in the next round. That ball happened to land in the hands of Huyette.

“Everything went quiet immediately when the ball was in the air,” Huyette said. “Frankly, I didn’t see the ball in the air. When Freese made contact, I ran for the middle of the backdrop hoping the ball would land near me.”

The ball did land near him and to avoid jealous fans he shoved the ball down his pants. Reiland then came all the way from a restroom break to congratulate his friend who was laying on the façade with the World Series ball.

Immediately, Reiland suggested to his friend that he should give the ball back to Freese.

Huyette eventually agreed, and soon it was time to meet the “hero of Game Six.”

“He seemed like a soft-spoken guy,” Huyette said. “He towered over me though. He was huge. I’m not a small guy, but he’s a big guy. In that moment he seemed calm, which surprised me.”

Although acting calm, Huyette thought Freese seemed stunned to see the ball.

“He thanked me and asked me what I wanted,” Huyette said.

The negotiations began.

Most fans want a ransom in trade for a historic piece of memorabilia. The holder of the ball in this situation asked for two simple things.

“I wanted a bat that Freese originally offered and I wanted to see if I could get a team poster,” Huyette said.

The poster, according to the team, was not a feasible option, so a team-signed, World Series ball was a fair alternative.

“It’ll always seem like a dream,” Huyette said. “I didn’t get any sleep for 42 hours. Anytime we had a little slow time we started to fall asleep. There was always a film in front of our eyes at the time. I wished things were more acute.”

Huyette graduated from Simpson with a, major in biology and getting a minor in Spanish. He said one of the most memorable things about Simpson was the renovation of Carver Science Center.

“I spent a lot of time in there, and seeing the changes firsthand were quite noticeable,” Huyette said.

Today, Huyette resides in Maryville, Ill. and works as a radiologist.