8/13/2014 5:37 P.M. ET
Astros fan Dean reflects on 2005 NLDS homer catches
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Shaun Dean got a text message from his brother Chris on Tuesday night. It read:
Apparently you're not the only one who caught two Astros home runs in the same game, also in left field.
That's when Dean went to Astros.com to look for the video of two homers hit that night by Houston's Chris Carter, both of them caught by Tim Pinkard of Springfield, Va. Nearly a decade later, it brought back good memories of Minute Maid Park.
"It was really cool that it happened to him," Dean, 33, told MLB.com on Wednesday. "It will never happen to him again. It's really neat. I'm happy for him. I hope he enjoys it."
Dean harkened back to one of the most famous games in Astros history: Oct. 9, 2005. It was Game 4 of the National League Division Series, Braves vs. Astros at Minute Maid Park. Houston won it in 18 innings, advancing to the NLCS on the way to its only World Series appearance to date.
Like Pinkard, Dean was out in the Crawford Boxes in left. In the eighth inning, Dean caught a grand slam hit by Lance Berkman, cutting Atlanta's lead from 6-1 to 6-5. Brad Ausmus would force extras in the ninth, and then, magically, Dean would catch Chris Burke's walk-off shot in the 18th.
What does it take to catch two home runs in the same game?
"Being at the right place at the right time," Dean said.
Dean gave the Astros both of the balls rather than attempt to cash in. He had his own press conference in the postseason. He hobnobbed with Roger Clemens, who he'd always love watching. He was given a lifetime pass to Cooperstown. He started an MLB.com Blog called Hit 'Em My Way.
"I was in the second row, too," Dean recalled. "It looks like Pinkard was in Section 100, a little closer to center than I was. The first one actually bounced off the facade on the top, it was a shot."
Today, Dean is chief financial officer for Joslin Construction in Porter, Texas. His son, Tyler, who Shaun carried as little boy into that press conference, is just shy of his 12th birthday. The game has been passed down to a boy who plays now, and it is passed down with a story that is hard to top.
"On Burke's home run, it was just like, I reached out and caught it," Dean said. "I don't remember what I was thinking. On one of them, I remember thinking, 'I hope it clears the wall,' because it had topspin. I'm thinking, 'Please stay up; don't fall short.'
"When I went down for the press conference, I met Burke and Berkman, and Berkman asked me which one went farther. I said Burke's did, and [Berkman] said, 'No you didn't remember right.' Everyone kind of laughed."
Dean said he and his family go to several Astros games a year, most recently to the Yankees series, sitting in the club level. They went to the Hall of Fame in the year after his catches, getting a first-hand look again at the Berkman and Burke balls, then in the "Autumn Glory" exhibit.
"We talk about going back there whenever [Craig] Biggio gets inducted," Dean said, "and that keeps getting pushed off, unfortunately."
It's hard to imagine that nearly a decade has flown by since those two historic baseballs flew into his hands. Watching Pinkard come away with two Astros balls brought it all back for him.
"You go to the game," Dean said, reiterating why he never tried to profit off of the balls. "I didn't come to the game with a baseball. Those guys hit 'em. I just caught 'em.
"They were very gracious, everyone with the Astros and the whole thing. It was just a great experience that I'll remember forever."