The Red Sox want Mientkiewicz to return historic Series-winning ball

BOSTON (AP) -- Red Sox fans have seen the video over and over again. A ground ball to pitcher Keith Foulke. He tosses it underhand to backup first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who raises it high as Boston celebrates its first World Series championship in 86 years.

Mientkiewicz still hasn't let go of the ball. But now the Red Sox want it back.

Calling the ball, "my retirement fund," Mientkiewicz stored it in a safety deposit box. Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino said Thursday he's going to ask Mientkiewicz to return it to the team.

"We want it to be part of Red Sox archives or museums so it can be shared with the fans," Lucchino told The Boston Globe. "We would hope he would understand the historical nature of it."

Mientkiewicz seems to understand it very well, which is exactly why he held on to it.

Historic baseballs have recently fetched impressive sums. The baseball Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk banged off the foul pole in the 1975 World Series sold for $113,373. The ball Barry Bonds hit for his 73rd home run went for $450,000. The most expensive baseball of all time is Mark McGwire's 70th homer, which went for $3 million.

Mientkiewicz said he thinks the Boston World Series ball has more value than a home run ball.

"Those are important and all, don't get me wrong, but there are always going to be more home runs," he said. "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."

Mientkiewicz came to Boston from Minnesota in the three-team midseason deal that sent Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs.

Mientkiewicz, who batted .215 for Boston, was used primarily as a late innings defensive replacement, and the former Gold Glove first baseman has indicated his unhappiness with the role.

Boston broke its championship drought by beating the New York Yankees in seven games in the American League Championship Series, then sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in four games in the World Series.

After the game, Mientkiewicz said he put the ball in his locker, then gave it to his wife, Jodi, who put it in her purse. The next day, the ball was authenticated by Major League Baseball.

Carmine Tiso, spokesman for MLB, told the Globe that Mientkiewicz owns the baseball, though Joe Januszewski, Red Sox director of corporate partnerships, said he thinks the team owns it.

Mientkiewicz couldn't be reached for comment Thursday by the Globe after Lucchino said the club wanted the ball back. But on Wednesday, he left no doubt that he believes the ball belongs to him.

"I know this ball has a lot of sentimental value," Mientkiewicz 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."
regardless of who legally owns the ball (for arguments sake lets assume its legally his), do you think he owes it to the organization and to the fans to give up the historic ball so it can be put into a museum?