DENVER (AP) - It took Troy Tulowitzki the blink of the eye to get the ball the first time and nearly two weeks to get his hands on it again.
Colorado's rookie shortstop retrieved the baseball Friday that's believed to have been used in his unassisted triple play against Atlanta on April 29.
Radio host Steffan Tubbs, who was sitting behind the Rockies' dugout, said he caught the ball when first baseman Todd Helton absentmindedly tossed it into the stands seconds after Tulowitzki turned the 13th unassisted triple play in major league history.
Following his KOA-850 radio show Friday morning, Tubbs handed over the ball to Tulowitzki during an on-air exchange, then signed an affidavit verifying its validity. Tulowitzki signed a bat for Tubbs and turned the ball over to the Rockies.
"To the best of our ability, we've determined it's the baseball from Troy's triple play," team spokesman Jay Alves said. "Nobody else has claimed to have it. We've got it in a safe place, and until Tulo' decides what he wants to do with it, we're going to hang onto it."
The club might display the ball at Coors Field but if the Hall of Fame wants it, it will be shipped to Cooperstown, N.Y., where Tulowitzki has sent his cap and jersey.
Because the ball left the Rockies' sight, it's not known if the Hall will want the keepsake that Chipper Jones lined into the glove of Tulowitzki, who stepped on second base to double up Kelly Johnson and then tagged Edgar Renteria for the third out.
Out of habit for the both of them, Tulowitzki relayed the ball to first base and Helton nonchalantly tossed it into the stands as he always does when he gets the final out of an inning.
Tubbs, who was at the game with his kids, caught the ball with his old baseball mitt that fans had razzed him about bringing to the ballpark.
"When Helton threw the ball, I was freaking out and jumping up and down: 'This is the triple-play ball. I can't believe it!"' Tubbs said.
So, was Helton relieved that Tulowitzki has his ball back?
"No. He shouldn't have thrown it to me," Helton deadpanned.
"If he would have just kept it in his glove and given it to me instead of throwing it into the stands, I wouldn't have had to go through all this trouble," cracked Tulowitzki.
Tulowitzki said he didn't fret the baseball's nearly two-week disappearance because he has the moment etched in his memory.
"That's something I'll carry with me my whole life," he said. "And hopefully I'll tell my children someday that it's not something too many people have done. That's kind of cool."
(Copyright Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)
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