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4/24/2007 03:15:00 PM
Top Five Home Run Balls
By Jacob Luft, SI.com
Gibby's memorable home-run ball would make a nice conversation piece.
I can't say I'm much into sports memorabilia. On a scale of one to 10, with one being completely apathetic and 10 being Charlie Sheen, I'd rank myself about a three. (Sheen, if you remember, once bought all the tickets to the left-field bleachers of an Angels game in hopes of catching a home run ball. He came away empty-handed.)
Of course, that would change if I found myself in the scrum trying to get my hands on a record-breaking baseball, such as the one Barry Bonds will hit when he becomes the all-time home run champ later this summer. Bonds' 715 ball went for $220,000 on eBay last August. For that kind of money, I'll gladly morph from the mild-mannered Bruce Banner into Incredible Hulk in pursuit of that horsehide.
That said, here are the five home run balls from baseball history I'd love to get my hands on, and not just for the monetary value, though that would be nice, too.
5. Bucky Dent's pop fly over the Green Monster ... Here in the snooty Northeast Corridor (SI's offices are in Manhattan), nothing gets older than hearing Red Sox fans whine about this, that and the other. It would be sweet if I could carry this ball around and say, "Hey chowdah-head, this is the ball Bucky hit to break your heart in '78!"
4. Babe Ruth's called shot against the Cubs ... The Babe didn't really call his shot in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series between the Cubs and Yankees, but who wants the truth when the lie is so much cooler?
3. Ted Williams' game-winner in the 1941 All-Star Game ... Teddy Ballgame went deep with two outs in the ninth inning and the AL down 5-4 and Joe Gordon and Joe DiMaggio on base to give his league the win. It was one of his favorite moments from his playing days, and the footage of the stoic Splinter frolicking around the bases is precious.
2. Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit blast in the 1988 World Series ... Gibson could barely walk, much less hit. His swing was all arms, but somehow he muscled future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley's pitch into the right-field stands to win the game for the Dodgers and make fools out of all those people who left the game early.
1. Roy Hobbs' rocket into the light tower at the end of The Natural ... The homer won the game for the Knights and allowed Wilford Brimley to buy the team from that dishonorable Judge. OK, so it's more of a prop than a real souvenir, but think about the mainstream appeal.
So, which home run balls would you most like to have in your collection? Let's hear it ...
Joe Carter's homer off of the Wild Thing (Mitch Williams) was the only come from behind walk off homerun to win a World Series in the history of baseball (Mazeroski's homer only broke a tie, so Joe's was much more dramatic). It was the greatest homerun in baseball history, and it would be great to have that ball.
While no lottery winner type of fan would ever do it, (who would deface their free money ball?) a true fan would take Barroids record breaking home run, write "TAINTED" on it, and then give it to the Baseball Hall of Fame for nothing more than a sack of peanuts and a $9 beer in a plastic cup.
1. gabby hartnett's homer in the gloamin' 2. any one of the 1-2-3 hit by reggie jackson vs. the trolleydodgers 3. jimmy leyritz off of mark wohlers (bravos vs. yanks) 4. george brett's pinetar home run 5. bo jackson's all-star game homer to lead off the game (brings back fond memories of when i was a kid) 6. bucky f'n dents 7. mr. november derek jeter in the 2001 world series (because in 2001, i didn't really believe in anything any more.) (also, a nod to scotty brosius) 8. kirby's "we'll see you tomorrow night" home run 9. the one jeffrey maier caught. thanks bud. we needed the help! 10.the first one barry lamar bonds hit, because he had a small head back then and i don't think he had cheated yet. 8.
Dusty Rhodes. The New York Giants Dusty Rhodes. James Lamar Rhodes. 1954 World Series against the Tribe. Pinch hit 3-run homer in the bottom off the tenth at the Polo Grounds wins the game. That "shot" made even Dent's HR look Ruthian (Bondsian? Mantlian?)