Controversy over Barry Bond's 73 homerun ball

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Wackbag Staff
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ESPN's story
Tuesday, October 9

Man says he may file criminal charges over HR ball

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds hit it and Alex Popov may have caught it, but Patrick Hayashi emerged from a scrum of Giants fans to become the happy owner of the ball the San Francisco slugger smacked Sunday for his 73rd homer.

Hayashi was grinning at the time, but he's tight-lipped now about what he'll do with the ball, valued at perhaps $1 million.

"I am just savoring the moment," Hayashi, 36, said in an e-mail that has served as his only public comment.

Instead, Popov's doing the talking.

"I was part of history because I caught Barry's No. 73," Popov told ESPN.com sports business writer Darren Rovell on Tuesday. "And without that video my story would forever go down in history as heresay."

KNTV footage shows that Popov, a health-food restaurateur from Berkeley, gloved the ball but was mobbed by a crush of clawing fans. Someone ripped the ball from his mitt and it ended up in Hayashi's hands.

"The tape clearly shows that Alex caught the ball," Ted Rowlands, the KNTV reporter who was in the middle of the pile, told ESPN.com. "The question is, are there any rules in the middle of a scrum? If there are rules of possession, what are they? If all bets are off until Major League Baseball comes along, then it's Hayashi's ball. If you can't steal from a scrum, it's Alex's.

"People are yelling, 'Get off! Get off!' And Popov is saying, 'I got it,' " said Rowlands, who told ESPN.com he's seen the videotape more than 20 times. "But in the middle of this all, Hayashi becomes obsessed with his pocket and his hand doesn't leave it, and after a while he shows the ball to the camera and says, 'Is this it?' "

Now Popov, the catcher on the fly, is brandishing a videotape and a lawyer, saying that if Hayashi doesn't give back the ball he might seek criminal charges.

Popov's lawyer, Rosemary McCarthy, told ESPN.com Tuesday afternoon that she left Hayashi a message that he hasn't returned.

Giants officials aren't swayed.

"Once Major League Baseball identifies the individual with possession of the ball, that's the end of that," said Jorge Costa, Giants senior vice president of ballpark operations.
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