Out of last summer's sky dropped 11 little chunks of fate.
Sent by a redheaded god, they fell into the hands of 11 mortals. Some got rich, some greedy, some generous and some famous. Amazingly, not one of the 11 kept his ball. And not one regrets what he did.
60—Deni Allen still drives his 1985 Blazer and still lives with four roommates. But he doesn't want to stick a pencil in his eye every time he thinks about passing up $250,000 to give 60 back to Mark McGwire. "I was with him in the clubhouse and wished him luck a few hours before he hit number 62," says Allen. "What is that worth?"
61—Mike Davidson still likes his "five-second" decision to give back 61, despite guesstimates that he could have gotten $300,000, instead of the autographed mementos and season tickets he accepted. Asked what he thinks of those who cashed in, Davidson shrugs, "They have to live with themselves."
62—Since Cardinals groundskeeper Tim Forneris retrieved 62, he's grand-marshaled a Disney World parade, met President Clinton, been on Letterman, gotten a free 1999 Cardinal-red minivan (license plate: NO 62), received 62 free car-washes, spoken at grade schools about doing the right thing, gotten hundreds of $1 bills in the mail, traded E-mails with McGwire and had a photo of him handing the ball to Big Mac hung in the Hall of Fame. Then again, he still lives at home with his parents, trying to get into law school and wondering how he'll pay for it if he does. "I could've sold it, I guess," says Forneris. "But I don't think I would've been happy."
63—When John Grass drew up a list of demands for the return of 63—a weeklong trip for four to Cards spring training; 16 items signed by McGwire; four season tickets in the bleachers; and having his 21-year-old son, John, throw out the first pitch at a St. Louis game—the Cardinals never called back. Since then Grass has been pummeled on St. Louis radio and called greedy.
But Grass is not without honor. He and his best friend, Larry Thomas, a fireman, vowed that if one of them caught a home run ball, he'd split anything he got for it. After Grass caught 63, Thomas's other friends said he'd never see a dime. But when Spawn comic-book creator Todd McFarlane gave Grass $50,000 for the ball, Grass made good, and Thomas bought a boat (Big Mac 63), which has a seat that's usually occupied by a very loyal buddy.
64—Officials at Milwaukee County Stadium were flummoxed when waiter Jason King said he had to talk to his brother before he did anything with his ball. Your brother? Six years earlier King, living in Southern California, learned he had a brother, David Wilsher, living in Madison, Wis., who was given up for adoption at birth, and—what do you know!—was a sick baseball fan, just like King. They hit it off so well that King decided to move to Madison to start catching up. Which is how it came to pass that King left for a Cardinals-Brewers game one day and came home famous.
In April, King tried to auction 64 for $90,000 on eBay, but had no takers. Two weeks ago he finally sold the ball to McFarlane for an amount he won't reveal, and he's splitting the money with Wilsher. "This ball has brought us so close," King says.
65—College student Chuck Dombrowski Jr. gave 65 back for nothing more than some McGwire signatures. Mark gave it to his son, Matt, who had predicted before the season that his dad would hit 65.