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Fan who caught Albert Pujols’ 500th home run ball returns it to slugger (pics/vid)

Albert Pujols became the 26th player in MLB history to hit 500 home runs in his big league career at Nationals Park on Tuesday night, smacking out both No. 499 and No. 500 in the team’s 7-2 win.

Fortunately for the Los Angeles Angels slugger, an Angels fan caught the ball and not a Washington Nationals fan … make that an extremely unselfish Angels fan not hellbent on taking financial advantage of simply being in the right place at the right time.

Tom Sherrill, a 29-year-old Angels fan Pomona, Calif., is a staff sergeant in the Air Force, was in the stands in left-center field when Pujols uncorked on a fifth-inning pitch. Reports indicate that another fan in the vicinity of Pujols’ historic ball should have snagged it.

Chris Gordon of Olney, Md., was at the game with his sons and believed he was in the perfect position to field the ball as he made his way down the steps, but the ball apparently drilled him the midsection, causing him to lose his balance.

That’s when Sherrill swooped in and snagged the prized baseball.

Sherrill told Angels broadcasters Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza that he had no intent to profit from his fortuitous positioning and planned to return the ball to Pujols without any demands for compensation. “I’ll take whatever they want to give me, but I’m not going to be picky. I just want to make sure that Albert gets the ball. I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Sherrill said, according to Big League Stew.

Showing an even greater level of class afterward than already displayed, Sherrill invited Gordon and his sons along for the trip to meet Pujols and return the ball. Sherrill and Gordon are seen below posing with Pujols.

Both Sherrill and Gordon reportedly received autographed balls and caps from Pujols in exchange for returning the valuable piece of memorabilia.

“What a great night,” said Gordon afterward, according to For the Win. He says he would have handed the ball over no questions asked or demands made as well.

What a refreshing change to the typical haggling involved after a fan catches a coveted ball and holds it for ransom.

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