Remember Doug Mientkiewicz? He caught the final out of the 2004 World Series and kept the baseball. A baseball that, on the open market, would’ve snagged a gabillion dollars given the 86-year World Series drought and Boston craziness and all of that. He kept it, though, as many guys who caught final World Series outs kept it. What was the big deal, right?
Well, since it was Boston, it became a big deal. It was a controversy. He got death threats. The Red Sox insulted him publicly as a “rent-a-player” and they filed a lawsuit against him. He was otherwise hounded until Hell wouldn’t have it before, in 2006, both sides agreed to donate the ball to the Hall of Fame.
The ball which led to the final out of the 2015 World Series is in the possession of a player too. That player: Drew Butera, who has it in a safe at his Florida home. Jon Morosi of Fox tells his story. It’s not that controversial a story. Butera plans to donate it to the Royals Hall of Fame at Kauffman Stadium. I guess we live in a simpler time now.
My favorite bit from the story is this, when the MLB people approached him right after the final out:
“As soon as we started jumping around, they came straight to me and said, ‘We need that ball,'” Butera remembered. “I said, ‘I don’t know if I want to give it to you.’ But they said, ‘No, no, we just want to authenticate it.’ So they put the sticker on it, gave it back to me, and I went right back into the pile.
All of which makes me think that the greatest baseball heist would not be to steal any memorabilia. Rather, it would be to steal those little stickers. It wouldn’t be easy to pull off, of course. I’d say you’re looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros, and a Leon Spinks. Oh, and the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever. For starters.
But really, a man could do a lot of damage with those.
All of this makes me wonder about what I’d do if I caught the final out of the World Series. I suppose, the Doug Mientkiewicz situation — a truly historic ball that people REALLY care about — is somewhat rare. Maybe it’d be a similar situation if the Cubs won the World Series after all of this time, but beyond that, even those such balls aren’t so insanely valuable, especially compared to what baseball players make.
But would you want it around to look at sometime? Maybe some day, after your career is over, and you’re feeling bad about life? Maybe you’d want it on your mantle or in your den to remember the time when, man, you were at the top of the world?