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April 19, 2002
by Bill Hogan



Somebody just paid $10,000 for a wad of bubble gum chewed by Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez.

How can something I routinely scrape off the bottom of my shoe be worth ten grand?


A guy in Wisconsin now owns what Gonzalez' own mother would use a tissue to pick up and throw in the trash.

Trash collectors all over the country are rejoicing. Forget about a Mickey Mantle rookie card, garbage is now going for big bucks on the sports memorabilia market.

A couple of years ago, I ate breakfast five feet from Yankee great Joe DiMaggio. I can't believe it never dawned on me to collect his half-eaten sourdough toast in a doggie bag and contact Christy's Auction House.

I wonder how many Red Auerbach cigar butts were carelessly discarded by the Boston Garden janitorial staff without regard to their value.

Many a steak house bus boy must be kicking himself for not saving the tons of fat and gristle left behind by George Foreman.

Hey, barkeep, think twice before cleaning out the ashtrays after a famous athlete leaves your establishment. The right Marlboro filter could put braces on your teenager. But let's not even go into the men's room.

I would buy into the notion that the whole chewing gum auction was a lark set up to benefit a local charity, except for one glaring fact: Those bidding on the used wad were overly concerned with the gum's authenticity. To the point where there was mention of a DNA test and, eventually, Gonzalez agreeing to chew up (and spit out) another chunk in front of 'witnesses'. Ripley should have witnessed this - it's surely one for the "Believe it or Not" files.

Equally as asinine as paying ten big ones for previously owned, flavored resin is turning down ten times that amount for a baseball. Any baseball. In this case, the Barry Bonds' record tying seventieth home run baseball.

That's right, the yutz that caught the ball (probably had a firstbasemans glove) scoffed at a standing offer of 100,000 Washingtons (and I'm not talking quarters) for a chance to grab the brass ring of baseball memorabilia. The instant retirement fund.

This tale of greed ends appropriately with the future Daddy Warbucks walking away with fifty-two grand from an online auction of the 'million dollar piece of horsehide'. (Less commissions and taxes, the net is just about enough feed money to give him a good shot at winning the next Power Ball lottery).

Here's the lesson: Ticketmaster serendipitously assigning you the right seat at the right game (and deciding to wait an extra half-inning to hit the men's room) does not necessarily make you a millionaire. And it certainly doesn't make you part of baseball history.

This guy would have made a heck-of-a-lot more cash doing the talk show circuit had he tossed the ball back onto the playing field so Bonds could put it in his trophy case.

Which leads me to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. I'm talking about the two rocket scientist's battling in the courtroom over the rightful ownership of Bonds' seventy-third home run ball.

Dee caught the ball. Dum took it away. Each claim the ball as his own. Each want to sell it for about three million.

First of all, lets settle the issue of ownership. Dee was wearing a baseball glove. Nobody over the age of thirteen should wear a baseball glove at a ballgame unless they plan on playing. It's not looking good for Dee.

I've been in a few foul ball scrambles. For as long as I can remember, the guy with the ball when the crowd disperses (or the cops arrive) is the rightful owner. Dee's done.

As for Dum - give the damn ball back to Barry Bonds. Or donate it to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The only interest Dum has in that baseball is the interest he'll be collecting on the millions he'll sell it for.

Dee's done, Dum's done. If I'm the judge in this custody case, I award the leathery child to the State of New York, City of Cooperstown. Who should own Barry Bonds' home run record breaking baseball? Every single baseball fan in America that wants to take the trek to upstate New York and see it.

Who should own Luis Gonzalez' chewed up bubble gum or Red Auerbach's cigar butts or George Foremans gristle? The guy who had it in his mouth last - until he throws it in the garbage, where it should remain.


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