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Ringing up a million
Fan cashes in big with All-Star Bell's grand slam
Posted: Monday July 12, 1999 11:13 AM
PHOENIX (AP) -- Gylene Hoyle had never been to an Arizona Diamondbacks' game. She never considered herself a baseball fan.
Until Sunday. Now she loves the Diamondbacks, especially Jay Bell. And why not? With one swing of the bat, Bell made her a millionaire.
Hoyle was sitting with her husband and two children a few rows behind the Arizona dugout when Bell swung on a 3- pitch against Oakland in the sixth inning Sunday and sent the ball rocketing toward the left field seats.
"I had my eyes closed at that point," she said. "I didn't actually know he'd hit the home run until everyone around me started yelling."
Hoyle, a 31-year-old child care provider from nearby Chandler, won the $1 million prize in the Diamondbacks' grand slam contest. At every Sunday home game since the Diamondbacks began play last year, there has been a contest where a fan wins tickets, then picks a player to hit a grand slam and the inning.
"I was just happy to get into the game because we'd never been here before," she said.
Hoyle chose Bell "because the rest of my family are big Diamondbacks fans and they said he was the best hitter with the most home runs." Her husband Clayton, a drill rig operator, suggested the sixth inning.
When Bell walked to the plate with the bases loaded he already knew she had chosen him and the sixth inning. He was 0-for-12 in the three-game series against the A's.
"There was no question I wanted to hit a home run there," Bell said. "I saw her on our dugout before the game and knew the whole situation. Most of the fans did, too. It was a lot of fun."
With the A's Jimmy Haynes on the mound, Bell worked the count to 3-1, then fouled a cople pitches into the seats. The last foul barely escaped the reach of catcher Ramon Hernandez. A few rows behind the Arizona dugout, sitting with her husband and her two children, Colleen 8, and Clayton II, 7, Hoyle was going crazy.
"We were counting players. I was saying, `Jay Bell isn't going to make it in the sixth' and my husband said, `You know, anything could happen,'" she said. "Then when he got up there and the bases were loaded, I just cringed."
When the foul balls went into the stands, "my stomach was in knots," she said. "When he hit it I was ecstatic."
Haynes delivered a fastball up and over the plate, and Bell hit into the left-field seats for his 24th homer. It was the fifth slam of his career.
Afterward, Hoyle hugged Bell outside the Diamondbacks' clubhouse and talked about what she'd do with the money.
"I have no idea," she said, "other than take a well-deserved vacation."
Her daughter already had an idea. "I want to go to Disneyland," she said.
Hoyle wasn't sure if she'd quit taking care of other people's children, despite her newfound wealth.
"I really like the kids I have," she said, "but I won't take any more."
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