Fan Gave Home Run Ball Back; Earned Scholarship

The best thing to come out of Mark McGwire’s controversial chase of Roger Maris 11 seasons ago? A guy who turned one of those historic baseballs into a career as a doctor.

Mike Pitt was a teenager when he convinced his family to go to Pro Player Stadium in Miami and watch the Marlins play the St. Louis Cardinals one late summer night in 1998.

He was a huge baseball fan who knew that Mark McGwire, then the toast of a nation, was just one home run away from breaking a very old National League single-season home run record. McGwire, it was clear, would also soon hold the Major League record held by Roger Maris.

Pitt jokingly told his family he was going to be the one to catch the ball.

"I didn’t want him to go," Judy Pitt, Mike’s mother, said at the time. "He kept telling me it was a historical game. I really didn’t understand what was so historical about it.

He didn’t technically "catch" home run ball #57, but he did wind up with it. Instantly presented with offers to sell it, the hooky-playing student turned them down and gave the ball back to McGwire.

Ripped off by not cashing in? No. The Palm Beach Post’s Sam Cook tells the story of how his decision to pass on the instant money actually worked out much better than anyone could have hoped.