Saturday, October 15, 2005

Does not compute

No matter how long I live, I will never be able to make sense of the politics of catching a home run ball. In Chicago, if the home run is hit by the opposing team, you're supposed to throw it back on the field. Phooey! If you catch a home run ball (or even a foul ball), you're supposed to give it to some helpless looking kid sitting near you. Humbug! And heaven forefend that you actually catch a historic home run ball. The players will posture like you owe it to them to give them "their" memento back, or that you shouldn't try to profit on your bounty.

Consider the case of Shaun Dean, the lucky fan who caught BOTH the critical Lance Berkman grand slam ball AND the game-winning Chris Burke home run in the 18th-friggin-inning of a playoff game that was the stuff of legends. We can't really say what the balls are worth, but let's just assume as a pair they're worth at least a new car. If the Astros go on to win the world series, who knows... Six figures to a crazy Texan with money to blow?

So what does this fellow do? Why he donates the balls to the Hall of Fame museum, of course. That's a really smart thing for a father of a three-year-old son to do. After all...
Dean never considered selling the balls. He had planned to display them on a shelf in his 3-year-old son's room decorated with sports memorabilia, including a signed picture of Don Larsen and Yogi Berra.

"They would have just gone to his collection," Dean said.

The players are congratulating him on what a cool thing it is that he did this. What I wouldn't pay to hear a ballplayer act just a tiny bit in-touch with the real world by telling him "Please, feel encouraged to sell the balls. They're your nest egg, or they can pay for your son's college education." I guess that's why you shouldn't really take financial advice from millionaires who make their livings playing a game in tight pants.

If I catch a home run ball, it's mine, home team or no. I will not harm others in pursuit of a collectible, but I'm not taking mercy on your waif just because he's cute. I have a son of my own; if anybody's going to receive a souvenir from me, it will be he. The end.


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