Walter "Sonny" Kowalczyk has probably heard from a few auction houses already. He’s also heard from the Yankees. Behold the gravitational forces of ARod’s 500th home run ball.
Some fans know exactly what they’re going to do with a historic home run ball. Others prefer to contemplate. The Rutgers University graduate student who latched onto the ball hit by Alex Rodriguez for career home run #500 is taking the latter route.
He’s being quiet about the entire affair while the Yanks and their star third baseman ponder an offer they hope will be enough to get it back. It seems the standard proposal of autographs and memorabilia from ARod and the club was not met with immediate enthusiasm. Kowalczyk told the club’s PR department he needed to sleep on it but as of Sunday, no decision had been made.
"I’m kind of going to let it sit for a few days," Rodriguez said. "It’s his ball, let him enjoy it, and then go from there."
Fans in the section where Kowalczyk was sitting knew of the potential value of ARod’s 500th home run ball and the scramble to get it was frightening.
"It was like when you put a piece of breadcrumb out for a bird and they all come swarming," Phyllis Malgieri, 47, a paralegal from Staten Island told Newsday.
"We saw the kid go down. It was like a football game. Everybody just piled on top of him. My sister and I jumped on our chairs hugging each other and crying. That’s how scared we were."
Ed Schecfman, 40, a teacher from New Hyde Park, L.I., who was involved in the fracas, said simply, "It was crazy in there."
The ball was marked by MLB authenticators who were keeping careful track of Rodriguz’s at-bats leading up to his 500th homer . It was verified and authenticated and Kowalcyzk watched the rest of the game with Kansas City from a private box. He left the stadium with the ball, but without having spoken to Rodriguez.
With Rodriguez possibly in line to become baseball’s next home run king several years from now, he ball would likely fetch $50-100,000 on the collectors market. Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run ball sold at auction Friday night for $144,000.
Kowalczyk’s brother told the New York Daily News the club might have had a chance to get the ball back but sent a lawyer to talk to the fan with ARod nowhere in sight. The team did, however, offer up the possibility of getting a stash of nice memorabilia from virtually any Yankees’ players that may have satisfied Kowalczyk. The fan’s father was hoping a deal could be brokered to get the ball back to the player.
"It’s his ball," Rodriguez said. "The thing is, obviously, I would love to have the ball. We’ll see what happens."
ARod had plenty of other souvenirs to take home. The helmet from the at-bat will be sent to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., but he kept the bat, the lineup card signed by all the umpires, and his uniform from the game.