Monday, January 31, 2005


Here is an interesting battle between the Boston Red Sox Baseball Club and first-baseman, Doug Mientkiewicz. Mienky, by virtue of being adept with the leather, was acquired by the BoSox for the stretch drive and inserted at first base at the tail end of Game four, to help seal the sweep and the end of the 86-year curse.
As the rise of the memorabilia market makes such items increasingly valuable, baseball is being forced to confront the issue of who owns the otherwise interchangeable pieces -- the bases, the balls, the uniforms -- that make the game go. On the same day the Red Sox clinched the Series, the ball Barry Bonds hit for his 700th career homer sold for $804,129.
Usually, the ball is tossed into the stands, put into an equipment bag, or routinely handed to a player who reached a milestone that day. Rarely does the team's front office demand the return of the ball to the club. But lawyers agree that it is the team who owns the ball and not some schmo who takes it home and locks it up for safekeeping.
The ball (that Bonds hit) belonged to Major League Baseball until it was hit, and as it flew out of the ballpark it became "intentionally abandoned property." The first person who came in possession of the ball became its new owner. But that ball left the playing field; Mientkiewicz's was still part of the game when he gloved it. And he wasn't a fan who bought a ticket in the outfield arcade; he was a Red Sox employee in his workplace doing his job. That makes Mientkiewicz like a research scientist who makes a lucrative discovery at work. He's sure to get an attaboy from the boss, but the royalties and patents probably belong to the company.
An interesting tidbit: just yesterday, I learned that a friend of mine is the great grandson of former Pirate player/manager, Fred Clarke, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945. I looked him up. He was the first of the so-called "Boy Managers", acting in his dual role of left fielder and manager for most of his career. His teams were always contenders, and he in fact was the losing manager in the first modern World Series played in 1903.

I asked my friend, John, if he had any paraphenelia from that era, and he began listing the stuff that had trickled down to him, one of which was the final ball of the 1909 World Series, the first-ever Game 7, which was won by the Buccos thanks to a remarkable complete game shutout by 27-year-old rookie, Babe Adams, pitching on two days rest.

1 comment:

Tom said...

A good way of putting it. He made the final out as an employee. No way he owns that ball.

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