MATTHEWS: The story of the Arizona beekeeper hero

Topps announced they had created a baseball trading card featuring Hilton, with autographed versions also being made available

Bee keeper Matt Hilton throws out the ceremonial first pitch before last Tuesday’s game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. (Matt York / AP Photo)

Every once in a while, a story comes along that just gives you all kinds of warm fuzzies. The story of an Arizona beekeeper who raced in to help get a Major League Baseball game going is one such instance.

On April 30, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks were set to play at Chase Field in Phoenix. But the game would start roughly two hours after its originally scheduled time due to something that appears to be unprecedented in MLB game history:

A “bee delay.”

Shortly before the contest was supposed to start, Diamondbacks staffers noticed a swarm of bees that had made themselves at home on the netting behind home plate. It wasn’t just a few, either. Photos and video clips showed what looked like thousands of them.

Fans were cleared from the area for safety reasons, and a beekeeper was called in to hopefully save the day and the game.

And that is exactly what Matt Hilton, branch manager for Blue Sky Pest Control, did.

When he arrived on the scene an hour or so after getting the call, Hilton was warmly treated to a hero’s welcome from fans and players alike.

Hilton played it up a bit, doing fist pumps in the air at various points to get the crowd worked up, much like you’d see a rock star do.

As he worked his magic, Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” tune and Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” song were alternatively heard playing in the background.

Chants of “MVP” were also heard while Hilton was hoisted in the air to contain the problem.

After Hilton successfully removed the swarm (and no, the bees were not killed), the Diamondbacks thought it would only be fitting that the man who left his son’s last T-ball game of the season to come take care of a major problem in the big leagues deserved the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

As Hilton walked out to the pitcher’s mound, he dramatically unzipped the netting of his suit and posed for the crowd, enjoying his unexpected moment in the national spotlight.

Though his pitch wasn’t so great, Hilton had already hit a home run with fans by that point and in the process had earned himself his very own press conference, where the media did a bit of swarming of their own. It was the first of what was to be many interviews to come.

The next day, the story of the hero beekeeper got even better when Topps announced they had created a baseball trading card featuring Hilton, with autographed versions also being made available.

All the cards sold out on the very first day.

The Arizona Diamondbacks also capitalized on the moment, offering buy one, get one free ticket deals for their next series for people who used promo code “BEEGUY.”

Business has no doubt picked up for Blue Sky Pest Control as well in light of Hilton’s unlikely game heroism.

USA Today baseball columnist Bob Nightengale put things in perspective in the aftermath of it all.

“The Bee guy now has his own Topps baseball card. 24 hours ago, he was an anonymous Pest Control dude,” he noted on Twitter.

Another Twitter user wrote that Hilton “woke up this morning and went to work. He’s going to bed as a small part of baseball history. That’s awesome.”

It was a great way to look at this amazing story. Sometimes, the little really guy does win.

North Carolina native Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a media analyst and regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.