WHITESTONE, NY – Imagine going to a baseball game and being the lucky fan who catches a historic home run ball. What do you do with that ball? Do you give it back to the player who hit it, or are you thinking mo money if I put it up for auction? If you’re not sure then keep reading.
It was on September 27, 1998, when St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire connected for his 70th home run of the season. He shattered New York Yankees Roger Maris’ record of 61. The fan that ended up with the money ball was 26-yearold Phil Ozersky. The Cardinals offered Ozersky a signed baseball, bat, and uniform from their new season home run king. Ozersky asked if he could meet McGwire and the Cardinals answered that they and McGwire do not negotiate. Ozersky basically told them to F-Off!
Ozersky was making 30 grand a year as a genetic researcher at the time. He took the ball to an auction house and three months later the creator of Spawn Comics, Todd McFarlane, wound up with the winning bid of 3.1 million dollars.
All this generated because of a cold shoulder. To show that he is a better man than McGwire, Ozersky took it upon himself to donate a quarter of a million dollars to the Cardinals foundation.
When Yankees Alex Rodriguez blasted his 600th career homerun, security guard Frankie Babilonia returned the ball to the admitted steroid head and received a signed bat. The ball would have generated 5000 bucks while the bat was only worth 500 dollars.
Captain Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit landed in the hands of Christian Lopez. Lopez only thought of meeting his idol when he handed the ball back to Jeter. The rapper Jay-Z was at the game and the multi-millionaire responded, “He’s crazy- a better man than me,” referring to Lopez’s gesture.
On October 1, 1961, Roger Maris’ 61st home run was caught by Sal Durante. When Durante tried to give the ball back to Maris the Yankees outfielder told him to keep it and go make some money for himself.
A few years ago I wound up getting the ball that N.Y. Mets Robinson Cano hit for his third home run of the game. Cano wanted all three balls for his personal collection. I was bamboozled by up to ten security guards who conned the ball from me and returned with a signed bat from Cano. They never gave me a chance to make a deal.
It is now 2022 and Yankees Aaron Judge, who’s looking to get paid after the season, is blasting milestone homers. His 60th was caught by CCNY college student Michael Kessler, who kindly returned the ball to Judge. His return was a photo with the slugger and a few signed items. As of this writing, a lucky fan awaits homerun ball 61 and then 62, which would set a new American League season record.
My advice to these fans is, “Get Yours.” With inflation on the rise and everybody struggling to make ends meet, take that ball to an auction house and get paid. Be like Judge, who’s waiting for his pay day. Be like that fan in Los Angeles who caught Cardinals Albert Pujols’ 700th home run, and immediately left the ballpark with the ball.
Whoever winds up with those historic balls better remember the line that Chaz Palminteri’s character, Sonny, spoke to Calogero in A Bronx Tale, “Mickey Mantle makes $100,000 a year, how much does your father make? You don’t know? Well see if your father can’t pay the rent, go ask Mickey Mantle and see what he tells you. Mickey Mantle don’t care about you, so why should you care about him? Nobody cares.”