OAKLAND -- On the the last day of the 2012 regular season, one strange miscue actually shook the Oakland Coliseum, leaving 36,067 people all in complete disbelief and then wild celebration.
With the American League West on the line, the A's had rallied back from a 5-1 deficit to tie the Rangers at five runs in the fourth inning. With two runners on base and two outs, Yoenis Cespedes hit a seemingly routine fly ball to center field that Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton suddenly dropped, giving the A's a 7-5 lead.
The Oakland Athletics never looked back and eventually won the game 12-5.
Saying the name Josh Hamilton anywhere near the Oakland Coliseum now immediately conjures up that one lasting memory. A dropped baseball that led to the A's becoming the first team in Major League history to win their division after trailing by five games with nine to play.
Hamilton took his eye off the ball. Dominic Arotzarena didn't.
Arotzarena is the A's memorabilia authenticator. He had to follow every move of the ball from the moment it clanked off Hamilton's glove. Recognizing it could be something special, he tracked the ball until it was out of the game, authenticated it, and set it aside.
"When I got that ball I didn't think of the significance," Arotzarena said. "That was dropped by Hamilton. That ball changed the whole game. That play was the game changer."
If he took an eye off the ball for a moment, or lost track of it, he couldn't confirm it's authenticity and then it would be lost amongst the thousands of other baseballs at the stadium.
Seven months later, the ball has resurfaced among other memorabilia from that game that Erik Farrell, the A's community relations and memorabilia manager, wisely set aside to auction. Whatever money the ball brings in will proceed the Oakland Athletics community fund.
Arotzarena has authenticated items as strange as the pie plates that Coco Crisp smashed into Josh Reddick's face, and as historic as the items from Dallas Braden's perfect game. This particular item however, seems much more interesting. It marked a moment in time that could have changed everything for two franchises.
"I just missed it, man," Hamilton told reporters after the game.
Now you might have a chance to actually catch it.