Out of last summer's sky dropped 11 little chunks of fate.
Sent by a redheaded god, they fell into the hands of 11 mortals.
Some got rich, some greedy, some generous and some famous.
Amazingly, not one of the 11 kept his ball. And not one regrets
what he did.
60--Deni Allen still drives his 1985 Blazer and still lives with
four roommates. But he doesn't want to stick a pencil in his eye
every time he thinks about passing up $250,000 to give 60 back
to Mark McGwire. "I was with him in the clubhouse and wished him
luck a few hours before he hit number 62," says Allen. "What is
61--Mike Davidson still likes his "five-second" decision to give
back 61, despite guesstimates that he could have gotten
$300,000, instead of the autographed mementos and season tickets
he accepted. Asked what he thinks of those who cashed in,
Davidson shrugs, "They have to live with themselves."
62--Since Cardinals groundskeeper Tim Forneris retrieved 62,
he's grand-marshaled a Disney World parade, met President
Clinton, been on Letterman, gotten a free 1999 Cardinal-red
minivan (license plate: NO 62), received 62 free car-washes,
spoken at grade schools about doing the right thing, gotten
hundreds of $1 bills in the mail, traded E-mails with McGwire
and had a photo of him handing the ball to Big Mac hung in the
Hall of Fame. Then again, he still lives at home with his
parents, trying to get into law school and wondering how he'll
pay for it if he does. "I could've sold it, I guess," says
Forneris. "But I don't think I would've been happy."
63--When John Grass drew up a list of demands for the return of
63--a weeklong trip for four to Cards spring training; 16 items
signed by McGwire; four season tickets in the bleachers; and
having his 21-year-old son, John, throw out the first pitch at a
St. Louis game--the Cardinals never called back. Since then
Grass has been pummeled on St. Louis radio and called greedy.
But Grass is not without honor. He and his best friend, Larry
Thomas, a fireman, vowed that if one of them caught a home run
ball, he'd split anything he got for it. After Grass caught 63,
Thomas's other friends said he'd never see a dime. But when
Spawn comic-book creator Todd McFarlane gave Grass $50,000 for
the ball, Grass made good, and Thomas bought a boat (Big Mac
63), which has a seat that's usually occupied by a very loyal
64--Officials at Milwaukee County Stadium were flummoxed when
waiter Jason King said he had to talk to his brother before he
did anything with his ball. Your brother? Six years earlier
King, living in Southern California, learned he had a brother,
David Wilsher, living in Madison, Wis., who was given up for
adoption at birth, and--what do you know!--was a sick baseball
fan, just like King. They hit it off so well that King decided
to move to Madison to start catching up. Which is how it came to
pass that King left for a Cardinals-Brewers game one day and
came home famous.
In April, King tried to auction 64 for $90,000 on eBay, but had
no takers. Two weeks ago he finally sold the ball to McFarlane
for an amount he won't reveal, and he's splitting the money with
Wilsher. "This ball has brought us so close," King says.
65--College student Chuck Dombrowski Jr. gave 65 back for
nothing more than some McGwire signatures. Mark gave it to his
son, Matt, who had predicted before the season that his dad
would hit 65.
66--True, $50,000 would've come in handy to Doug and Marilyn
Chapman, "but look at the memories we have," says Marilyn. One
is a videotape of Big Mac picking up Marilyn in the Bear Hug of
the Year. "People tell us we were crazy," she says of giving
back 66, "but we had so much fun!"
67, 68, 69--All sold to McFarlane for $50,000 and up. Texan Doug
Singer (67) had no allegiance to McGwire. Hey, how else was
Heath Wiseman (68) going to pay off $100,000 in vet-school
bills? And what were the odds that Kerry Woodson Jr. would catch
McGwire's 69th home run in the third inning on the last day of
the season and have it not be the record-setter?
70--Another 1/16 inch of fingernail and Jason Kramer is a
multimillionaire today. After all, he had one finger on number
70 as it sat at rest under a bleacher seat. He was stretched out
as far as his ligaments would allow, but he could barely get a
finger on it. Suddenly another hand snatched it--Philip Ozersky's.
True, Ozersky, a coworker and softball teammate of Kramer's, made
about $3 million when he sold the ball to McFarlane, but, as he
says, "Hey, I did buy Jason a beer."
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
"I was with McGwire and wished him luck a few hours before he
hit number 62," says Allen. "What is that worth?"