They gave Alex Rodriguez two paintings, a sculpture, home plate and an engraved silver tray. But they couldn’t give him the ball he hit for his 500th career home run.
That ball is all tangled up in the sorted tabloid tale of Walter “Sonny” Kowalczyk who caught it on a beautiful afternoon at Yankee Stadium. He opted for newspaper headlines and talk radio instead of a handshake and some autographed balls and bats.
The whole thing has turned into a string of ugly demands and bizarre statements. The most recent twist has Kowalczyk’s representative calling area newspapers asking for money to interview him.
This sorry episode made me think of a story in Peter Bjarkman’s book: A History of Cuban Baseball.
Bjarkman was in the Pinar del Rio Hotel after a 2002 game. He wandered into the deserted bar where he found – openly displayed – the game worn jerseys and Olympic Gold Medals of Pedro Luis Lazo, Omar Ajete and pitching coach Julio Romero.
Bjarkman wrote that they were not secured in any way, but were completely safe in a place where memorabilia profiteering is still a foreign notion.
Don’t try that around here.