Whose ball is it? (Final Act)

The record paid for a home run baseball is $752,000. This was the amount fetched for Barry Bonds’ record breaking 756th home run. Clearly, Jose Molina’s home run, the last home run hit at Yankee Stadium, will not get anywhere near that amount. In fact, an auction held in 2008 with a minimum starting bid of $100,000 had bidders but no bid met the minimum. As previously mentioned, I am unaware of any other auctions held to sell the ball and even if the ball is still in the custody of Steve Harshman. Molina’s home run occurred in the fourth inning. In the third inning a home run hit by Johnny Damon was caught by Brian Elmer. This ball was auctioned with a starting bid of $5000 and I believe was sold for that amount. If anyone knows anything more about these two balls please comment on this.

Does this ball belong to Steve Harshman or Paul Russo? The time has come for me to give my opinion. When the home run ball landed on the net and stayed on the net, the net became the owner of the ball. Since the Yankees own the net, the Yankees became the owner of the ball. Steve Harshman, putting his hand through the net trying to pull the ball through the net, was violating the law by attempting to rip the net. This should nullify his claim that he ever had possession of the ball. A security guard, standing on a chair, dislodged the ball causing it to roll down the net. Subsequently, the ball was caught by Paul Russo. Paul then actually did have possession of the ball, if only for 30 seconds. The security guard then told Paul to hand him the ball which Paul did. Upon receiving the ball, the guard handed it to Mr. Harshman, who left the stadium with the ball.

The Yankee spokesman said during an interview that the Yankees had a policy that provided for this situation. Their policy was the Yankees could award this ball to whomever they feel is entitled to the ball. Assuming such a policy existed and this policy left the decision of who should get the ball to a security guard, one could argue that Mr. Harshman was the rightful owner of the ball.

The other side of the argument is that once the ball was freed from the net and started rolling, it wound up off the net and in the hands of Mr. Russo. The Yankees then gave up possession of the ball and the possession was obtained by whoever wound up with the ball. That person was Mr. Russo. At that point in time Mr. Russo had possession of the ball. When he was asked to hand over the ball, he could have refused the request. If he had done that my feeling is that the security guard would have had no choice but to let Mr. Russo continue his possession of the ball.

We now have a situation of two men claiming possession of the ball. One man, Mr. Harshman never had possession of the ball legally. The other man Mr. Russo had possession of the ball for 30 seconds. The dispute evokes memories of the bitter feud after Barry Bonds’ record 73rd homer in 2001. Fan Alex Popov was first to glove the ball, but another crowd bystander, Patrick Hayashi, emerged with it after a melee. After three weeks in a courtroom, a judge ordered them to sell the ball and split the money.

In my opinion, this dispute should have had the same ending as the dispute over Barry Bonds’ record home run ball. Mr Harshman and Mr. Russo should be ordered to sell the ball and split the money. Now, it is your turn to comment. I especially encourage any attorney to express their legal opinion. Please either email me or comment below.

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