Coghlan hit his first dinger Wednesday during a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, and Marlins officials went into the stands to retrieve it from the fan who caught it. It's usually a clean extraction. The fan gives up the ball and gets a glove or hat or some other piece of memorabilia.
But fate would have it that this ball landed in the hands of the now infamous "The Happy Youngster," a diehard Brewers fan who claims to have caught some 50 home run balls and routinely extorts players who want the sentimental souvenir back. He has appeared on ESPN for several highlight reel catches in the bleechers, and unfortunately for Coghlan, he snared his ball.
"He wasn't the most polite or respectful guy about the whole process," said the second baseman. "He told me he goes around a lot and catches these balls and holds them for ransom -- even though he doesn't say that he does, it seems that way."
Soon it was time to play hardball. The fan, who says his name is Nick and is 29-years old, should change his name to the "Happy Hostage Taker" or the fan-friendly "Extortionist."
Negotiations have been rumored to start at the player's first born, but the fan seems to be able to be talked down to a new Lamborghini or a beach house in exchange for the home run ball. Coghlan didn't divulge all of the details of the hostage negotiations, but he did say the fan made demands for top flight Yankees versus Marlins tickets and a signed bat and ball from All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
"Then he wanted other things that I didn't think (were) fair," Coghlan said.
Now a better known player might have "people who will remain nameless" to get the kid to give up the ball, but a rookie just earning his stripes in the league doesn't quite roll with an entourage like that. No doubt a skilled hostage taker like "The Happy Youngster" knew that, too.
Coghlan got the ball, but the feud seems to be far from over, if you believe a post on "The Happy Youngster" blog.
"This day was flat out ridiculous," the fan wrote. "I'm going to need some time to put this one up. I'm hoping by midnight tonight. You won't want to miss this one!"
We can't wait to hear what he got.