Special Report: The Chihuahuas Ballhawk

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) - Thirty-one year-old Eder De Santiago isn’t your typical El Paso Chihuahuas baseball fan.

In fact, he’s far from it.

A brief glance around the baseball aficionado’s room reveals a hobby not many baseball superfans could boast. Scattered across his room, piled in baskets and lining the walls, the bed, the window and even swelling out of its own special cabinet is baseball - after baseball - after baseball.

"Right now I have 1,127," he said.

1,127 baseballs. And he isn’t even close to being done.

Eder is a ballhawk – a baseball fan adept at finding, chasing after and collecting stray baseballs at games and batting practices. He claims every Minor League Baseball stadium has one—and he’s El Paso's.

“It’s a hobby for me,” he said. “It’s just as fun as watching the game.”

He says he feels like a player—constantly chasing and snagging balls. Alongside gathering foul balls at the end of every inning, his main technique is making sure he arrives two or three hours before every game. He stands behind the gates, watching the players practice and the balls soar across the field and into the stands. The batting practice ends, the gates open...and the hunt begins.

“We call them Easter eggs,” Eder said.

Despite being a baseball fan his entire life, he had never been to a baseball game before the Chihuahuas arrived—now, he hasn’t missed a single night game played in El Paso over the last two seasons. Though he usually keeps the balls, he says he sometimes gives them away to kids as well.

It all began after a Round Rocks Express player tossed him a free baseball at a Chihuahuas game in June 2014. Marked as his favorite baseball to date, he promptly convinced multiple Chihuahuas players to sign it.

"I only wanted one ball at the beginning,” Eder said. “And then one game, I found one. Then the second game I got another one. Then the third game I got two more.”

What started as a convenient interest quickly transformed into a newfound passion. After gathering nearly a thousand balls, he enlisted his younger brother to join in on his speedy hunts. They had only one goal: one ball for every game attended.

It didn’t take Eder long to surpass it.

“The most I’ve gotten in a game is 17 balls,” he said.

With his longest streak at 105 games, some people call him crazy for surrendering so much of his time to attend every baseball game. Eder himself admits to having to sacrifice parties and other aspects of his personal life just to ensure he ends the day with one—or 17—more baseballs in his pocket.

As for this ballhawk, though, there’s no better past-time.

“I know people that are 40 and 50 years old that do this as a living so maybe [I’ll continue] until my 60s,” he said. “I’ll just have to get a room or storage place to keep them all.”

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