Sunday, February 5, 2023

Famous Baseballs

There are several historic instances of people catching, or attempting to catch, baseballs tied to MLB milestones:

  • The ball that Mark McGwire hit for his 70th home run of the 1998 baseball season, then setting a new record, was sold by a fan to Todd McFarlane for US$3.2 million at auction.
  • Larry Ellison, not to be confused with the software entrepreneur of the same name, famously retrieved both Barry Bonds' 660th and 661st home runs.
  • Barry Bonds' 73rd home run of the 2001 season. It was the last home run of his historic, record breaking season where he broke Mark McGwire's single season home run record. Ownership of the ball generated controversy and litigation resulted between the two people who claimed to have caught it. The story was made into a documentary, Up for Grabs. It was sold in auction to Todd McFarlane for $450,000.
  • Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run, beating Hank Aaron's record, caught by a New York Mets fan in 2007. It was later sold at an online auction for more than $750,000 to Marc EckĊ, a New York fashion designer.
  • Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, a home run, was caught by a New York Yankees fan who gave the ball back to the Yankees and was rewarded with about $70,000 worth of gifts and memorabilia.
  • Roger Maris' 61st single-season home run was caught barehanded by a truck driver. The ball was sold at the price of $5,000.

Other famous baseballs:

  • Babe Ruth's home run in the 1933 MLB All-Star Game sold for over $800,000. It was also signed by him.
  • Hank Aaron's 755th home run ball sold for $650,000 at auction in 1999. The ball was kept in a safe deposit box for 23 years after groundskeeper Richard Arndt was fired from the Milwaukee Brewers for not returning the ball, even though he had attempted to the previous day.
  • A baseball signed by both Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe (who were married for less than a year) in 1961 during spring training in Florida sold for $191,200 at auction.
  • The ball that rolled between Bill Buckner's legs (and cost Boston extra innings) during the 1986 World Series sold for $418,250 at auction.
  • Steve Bartman interfered with a play while attempting to catch a foul ball, causing the Chicago Cubs not to get an out in "The Inning" during the 2003 NLCS. The loose ball was snatched up by a Chicago lawyer and sold at an auction in December 2003. Grant DePorter purchased it for $113,824.16 on behalf of Harry Caray's Restaurant Group. On February 26, 2004, it was publicly exploded in a procedure designed by Cubs fan and Academy Award winning special effects expert Michael Lantieri. In 2005, the remains of the ball were used by the restaurant in a pasta sauce. While no part of the ball itself was in the sauce, the ball was boiled in water, beer, vodka, and herbs and the steam captured, condensed, and added to the final concoction.

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