Yankee Stadium's last HR leads to skirmish

September 23, 2008 4:02:16 PM PDT
Taking an "aw shucks" attitude, the Colorado man who caught the last home run ball at Yankee Stadium said he wasn't sure he'd be willing to sell it. "It would be something nice to give to your grandkids," said Steve, who declined to provide his last name.

The record at auction for a baseball was the $752,000 that Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run ball fetched last year.

Although the ball hit Sunday night by Jose Molina would likely not threaten that mark, it certainly would have value as the last home run memento in a stadium where some of the most prodigious home run kings from Babe Ruth to Mickey Mantle, and Reggie Jackson, swatted gargantuan shots.

"Steve from Colorado" did not earn his quarry without a skirmish under the netting covering Monument Park in left field.

Another fan, Paul Russo of Manhattan, insisted he had claim to the souvenir, but security officers handed the ball to Steve. He said the ball ended up in his hands after it was removed from the netting.

"When it was first hit, you could just kind of see it come right at us and you knew it was coming close. I mean I was right under it, it hit bounced once and came right back to me and I just grabbed it," he said, claiming he held a grip on the ball through the netting. "Yeah I held it. I wasn't going to let go of it."

He said he was confident he is the ball's rightful owner. Asked if he planned on taking legal action to try and get ownership of the ball, Russo said he was exploring his options.

Russo is a 31-year-old teacher at an elementary school in the Bronx who is a lifelong Yankees fan and even named his dog after Reggie Jackson. He was at the game with his brother and teenage nephews and says he gave the ball to Yankee security guards because he thought that was part of the official process and that he would be able to get it back.

"I had it. All the Yankees officials were there. I caught it, it came right to me."

The first home run of the night, a three-run shot by Johnny Damon in the third inning, was caught by Brian Elmer, salesman from Trenton, N.J. - and a Mets fan.

"This is my first time here," he said.