On Friday, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote a column that for some reason became a national story. Shaughnessy interviewed Doug Mientkiewicz of the Boston Red Sox and asked about the ball he caught for the last out of the 2004 World Series. If you remember, Edgar Renteria hit a comebacker to pitcher Keith Foulke. Foulke ran towards the mound and flipped the ball to Mienkiewicz and the Red Sox had won their first World Series in 86 year. We all know the ecstacy that the Championship brought to Red Sox Nation.
No one had thought about the ball. The Red Sox did not ask for it. The Hall of Fame never sought it out. Mientkiewicz did have the ball authenticated by Major League Baseball and put it in a safe deposit box. Until Shaughnessy called Doug, no one made a mention of it. Then, Mientkiewicz learned lesson number one, when you talk to Dan Shaughnessy, you’ll become his favorite whipping boy in his columns. Nomar Garciaparria, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Carl Everett and others have been burned in Shaughnessy’s personal scorched earth policy.
Mientkiewicz admitted to Shaughnessy and joked that he was going to use the ball as a college fund for his kids. However, that humorous tone was not evident in Shaughnessy’s column. Instead, the man who was nicknamed Curly Haired Boyfriend by Carl Everett or CHB for short (Everett told the Globe’s Gordon Edes that, “I’m not speaking to you or your curly haired boyfriend.”) decided to throw Mientkiewicz under the bus by writing the following ……
the first baseman left no doubt that he believes the ball belongs to him.
"I know this ball has a lot of sentimental value," he said. "I hope I don't have to use it for the money. It would be cool if we have kids someday to have it stay in our family for a long time. But I can be bought. I'm thinking, there's four years at Florida State for one of my kids. At least.
"I see the money going for home run balls by McGwire and [Sammy] Sosa and Bonds. Those are important and all, don't get me wrong, but there are always going to be more home runs. This is something that took 86 years, and 86 years is a long time. Personally, I went through hell and back this year. But winning the World Series is something I'm going to remember for a long time."
The Red Sox will certainly remember him even longer if he holds onto the ball that the club thinks belongs to the Nation.
Mientkiewicz and his wife Jodi then had to go on the offensive and go on Boston sports radio station, WEEI to say that his comments were tongue-in-cheek and they had no plans to sell the ball. He did say he would be happy for fans to see the ball on display at Fenway Park or other venues.
By the time Mientkiewicz appeared on WEEI, the story had spread to ESPN.com and various other news outlets. It was the topic of the day on “Pardon the Interruption” and sports radio stations across the country. For Mientkiewicz, it was too late to stop the dyke. The damage by Shaughnessy had been done and there is no way that Doug nor his wife can appear on every station where it was discussed.
This is the biggest non-story of 2005 thus far. For one, possession is 9/10th of the law. When Mientkiewicz decided to keep the ball, that was it. The people from MLB decided that he could keep the ball and didn’t ask for it back. The ball does not belong to Red Sox Nation as team CEO and hothead Larry Lucchino would like for fans to believe.
If Doug wants to keep the ball, he should. No one, not Larry Lucchino or CHB should tell him otherwise. Unfortunately, this story grew legs and boomeranged before it could be debunked.