Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
The Cincinnati Reds' Ken Griffey Jr. hits his 600th home run during the first inning of a
baseball game against the Florida Marlins on Monday, June 9, 2008.

Griffey's 600th Home Run Is Latest Disputed Souvenir

June 11, 2008 05:06 PM
by Josh Katz
Police involvement in the quarrel over Ken Griffey Jr.'s 600th home run ball is just one more case of the ugly side of the sports memorabilia market.

30-Second Summary

Griffey sent his 600th home run soaring over the right field fence at the Reds-Marlins game on Monday, securing his place on the exclusive list of just six ballplayers to have reached the milestone.

A Marlins season ticket holder identified only as “Joe” appeared to have caught the ball and police promptly escorted him out of the stands.

But the controversy erupted when 25-year-old Justin Kimball said he, not Joe, had made the catch. He asserted that he then secured the ball in his wool cap, only to have it taken away by someone else. The Miami-Dade police investigated, and said that video evidence did not corroborate Kimball's account.

Leading to the confusion, says Marlins President David Samson, is that Joe used a little trick to secure the ball. He reportedly made the catch, then threw a decoy ball on the ground to distract fans as he made his escape. Joe says he plans to keep the ball despite Griffey’s request for the souvenir.

The fight over the ball brings to light the skyrocketing prices of sports memorabilia and the lengths that some fans will go to secure valuable souvenirs.

In September, Rockies fan Robert Harmon thought he had come away with Barry Bonds's 762nd—and possibly final—home run. But a scramble for the ball and a dropped souvenir from batting practice have led to some confusion over who has the real piece of history, further complicated by another fan's claim of ownership.

Considering the sums involved, it is no surprise that battles in the stands and in the courtrooms have become almost commonplace as fans and even players clamor for keepsakes.

Headline Link: Griffey's controversial ball

Related Topics: The high price of sports memorabilia

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