Even now? After Big Mac stonewalled Congress and essentially pleaded the Fifth?
"It's no big deal. Like he said, it's in the past. It really doesn't matter."
What will he tell six-year-old Vincent, with his two Big Mac posters on the wall?
"It doesn't matter. The first game I ever took him to, Barry Bonds hit a home run. So, he likes Barry Bonds."
I CALL 62. Tim Forneris, a former altar boy, was the young man on the Cardinals' grounds crew who grabbed the record-buster behind the leftfield wall, who had permission from the team to do with it as he wished, who had a million bucks in the palm of his hand at age 22 ... and handed it to Big Mac.
He still mans a bullpen gate for the Cards on summer nights and spends his days as a public defender working on appeals for poor people in St. Louis who've been convicted of rape, murder and theft. "I can't speak for Mac," he says. "If I'd done steroids, I'd have talked about it at the hearings and taken the repercussions. If I were commissioner, I know what I'd do about the home run records, but I'm not, so I won't comment.
"But I'd still give that ball back. The amount of kindness I've received for giving it back is unbelievable. People said it was worth a million dollars--I've had close to a million experiences. You can't take those memories away from me. You can't take out of me what's already in me. You can't look back at Christmas Day when you were six and think any less of that moment, no matter what you learned later."
I CALL 70. Philip Ozersky, the Cardinals' fan who had a job in a Washington University lab in St. Louis charting DNA maps of the human genome when he snatched Big Mac's 70th and final homer that year ... and sold it for three million dollars. He's 32 now, still in the lab blueprinting chicken and chimpanzee DNA while his investments fatten and the charities to which he donated 10% of the money aid youth and fight disease.
His arms aren't quite long enough to slap himself on the back. "But what we're learning has reaffirmed my decision to sell that ball," he says. "Everyone who gave his ball back was doing what he thought was the fair thing to do. But was McGwire?"
I CALL TODD MCFARLANE, the guy who bought that 70 ball for $3 million and then watched a leftfielder who claims he thought he was rubbing flaxseed oil and arthritis cream on his body punch out number 73 three years later and lop, oh, a couple of million bucks off the value of Todd's purchase. And then watched Big Mac swallow his tongue on TV ... and there went, oh, a couple of hundred grand more.