It won’t have quite the value as the ball that broke the curse of the Bambino, but the ball that ended this year’s World Series was a topic of conversation after the game.
No controversy this time.
When Jonathan Papelbon struck out the last batter and gave the Boston Red Sox their second World Series title Sunday night, catcher Jason Varitek hung onto the baseball for dear life.
But don’t look for it on eBay. This time, the ball’s first caretaker knew what he would do if it came to him. Varitek put the ball in his back pocket and joined the celebration at the pitcher’s mound.
"I’ll give it back to the team," the Red Sox captain told the Associated Press after the 4-3 victory that swept the series. "Maybe we won’t have a controversy this time."
When the Red Sox last won the Series, a 2004 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz caught the final out and then claimed the ball as his own. A nasty custody fight ensued. It took 17 months to settle the dispute but the ball eventually wound up being loaned to the Red Sox before Mientkiewicz gave it to the Hall of Fame.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino had made plans to keep his own memorabilia hunters in pursuit of the ball this time.
"We have a club archivist who should be in here, should have retrieved it already," Lucchino said in the middle of the celebration in the visiting clubhouse in Coors Field. "An archivist made an effort the last time, unsuccessfully. But I’m sure we’ll be more successful."
Varitek said he had stored the ball in a safe place.
Mientkiewicz, now with the New York Yankees, said he regretted the controversy.
"Me, my family, went through hell and back," he told the AP. "It should have been handled differently," he said when the settlement was announced. "I can put my [World Series] ring back on with pride now."