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Jan 7, 2005 11:33 pm

A Valuable Baseball

Just when you think pro athletes can't get any more selfish: from today's Boston Globe, the Red Sox backup first baseman, Doug Mientkiewicz, is refusing club requests that he return the baseball that was part of the final out in the 2004 World Series. (The ball was tossed to him to make the final out.) The Red Sox want to place the ball on display, along with other souvenirs of their championship season. Mientkiewicz has described the baseball as his retirement fund.

His 2004 salary? According to USA Today, it was $2.8 million.

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Richard Henry Morgan - 1/10/2005

FSU just happens to be Doug's alma mater.

Derek Charles Catsam - 1/10/2005

James --
Great point about Game 4 being in St. Louis. In any case, it is clear that the Sox have little claim on the ball. The whole thing has seemed petty for the Sox. the two sides have talked in the past day or two and will work out some agreement.

James Stanley Kabala - 1/9/2005

Mintkewicz has since said that he would never sell the ball and that the "retirement fund" comment was meant as a joke. I don't know whether this was the truth or post-foot-in-mouth "damage control."
Does anyone know whether the Red Sox ever owned the ball at all? I would think that the ball would have been the property of either Major League Baseball as a collective, or of the home team, which was St. Louis, not Boston. Is the argument that it became Red Sox corporate property once it was used by a Red Sox pitcher (Foulke)?

Van L. Hayhow - 1/9/2005

Maybe it was, but an article in this morning's Providence Journal stated flat out that there is a long-standing tradition in baseball that the last player to make the out gets to keep the ball. Game balls aren't used after the game in any event so the team has gotten its use out of them. The article also pointed out that D.M. gave the game ball for the final victory over the Yankee's to Derek Lowe and no one has said anything about that. If the article is accurate, I don't see what the problem is, no matter what his motivation is.

Robert KC Johnson - 1/8/2005

The salary point seems to me relevant given that M'wicz has said that he views the ball as his insurance policy, something that will put one of his kids through Florida State (aiming high there, Doug!). If he had come out and said that he wanted to keep the ball because it was his most tangible memory of the season and his time in Boston, I wouldn't have had any problem with his decision. But he admitted his intent was mercenary.

Derek Charles Catsam - 1/8/2005

You are so very wrong about this one that I am not even certain I want to go into detail save to say that you are so very wrong about this one. Athletes have been keeping hold of balls and googaws forever. According to baseball rules the ball in Mientkiewicz's to keep. And Minky's salary is irrelevant -- what does it have to do ith anything? Would the argument be less or more valid if he earned $4 million? $17 million? $400,000? And if laying out his salary is relevant (again -- it is not) then it would seem that laying out the intake of the red Sox is only fair. The Red Sox have plenty of things they can display from this year. Minky made the final putout, he kept the ball, and it is silly for the Red Sox to make an issue of this. Especially when Minky has already made clear that he is keeping the ball but will gladly lend it to Cooperstown and the Hall of fame indefinitely for all to see. So let's see, the guy who got the final ball, who is upholding alongstanding tradition that has never been challenged, and who is willing to let the ball go to Cooperstown for all to enjoy is the selfish one? Um, no. Sorry.

Richard Henry Morgan - 1/8/2005

I don't hold a brief for the unselfishness of professional baseball players, but I wouldn't make the refusal to give something of value to a baseball owner the center of my case for the opposite proposition.

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