Please read the previous posting to get up to speed. This posting is based on my phone interview with Paul Russo, one of the two people who claimed possession of the last home run ball hit at Yankee Stadium. The phone interview took place on January 27, 2013. In my phone conversation with Paul I took notes and will now put the notes together to give Paul’s version of what happened on September 28, 2008.
Paul’s story begins with what happened the day before the game. Paul wanted to go to the last game at Yankee Stadium but his brother seemed uninterested in going. In an attempt to persuade his brother into going Paul told his brother that he had a vision of catching the last home run ball hit at the stadium. His brother decided to go and they invited two cousins. One cousin is handicapped and so the four of them took seats in the handicapped seating in the stands in left-center.
According to Paul as Molina’s drive headed for the left field stands people reached up ignoring the fact that a net would stop the ball from reaching their hands. The net wound up catching the ball. One man, later identified as Steve Harshman, reached up and tried to pull the ball through the net. Paul then told me, “ a security guard told Harshman to remove his hands from the net and leave the ball alone.”
By this time, the head of security arrived at the scene and also ordered Harshman to release the ball. He finally agreed to release the ball. At this point the ball was still stuck in the netting and did not move. The head of security, feeling a riot would occur when the ball was released from the net, ordered everyone to sit down. Paul was one of the people standing. Everyone sat down except Paul. The reason Paul was still standing is the security guard stood on Paul’s chair to dislodge the ball. Once the ball was allowed to move it rolled down the netting right into Paul’s hands. At this point Paul had possession of the ball.
Here is Paul’s account of what followed. A security guard told Paul to give him the ball. Paul felt that the guard was asking for the ball to protect him from the crowd and handed him the ball. Within 30 seconds the guard just flipped the ball to Mr. Harshman. Paul was shocked. He approached the head of security and wanted the ball back. The head of security just walked away.
Paul said to me, “since the ball was stuck in the netting before Mr. Harshman tried to pull it through, the ball belonged only to the Yankees at this point.” Paul went on to say, “Mr Harshman never had possession of the ball. In fact by trying to pull the ball through the netting, Mr Harshman was violating the rules of Yankee Stadium. Why should a person who violated rules and never had possession of the ball be allowed to keep the ball?” Paul felt throughout the event he was the only person who actually had possession of the ball and therefore was entitled to the ball.
Paul was advised by my son Matthew, himself a corporate attorney, to see a civil attorney. The attorney was interested in the case but told Paul it could cost Paul several thousand dollars. Paul told me he was in no position to take on that type of expense. Paul admitted to me money was his first motivation but after thinking it over he would be satisfied in donating the ball to the Yankees to be thrown out on opening day 2009. He just wanted to be a small part of Yankee history. He contacted Mr. Harshman, the possessor of the ball, and suggested this to him. Mr. Harshman turned down the offer.
My last posting will give my thoughts on the controversy. I welcome your ideas. So please comment. Also, if you know what happened to the ball please comment.