One million dollars. For a baseball.

I saw this story online today and felt like Mr. Hand when Spicoli had a pizza delivered to his classroom in Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Am I hallucinating?

The story of Bill Buckner and the ground ball that went through his legs has been played again and again in the 25 years since it happened, most recently on the ESPN documentary Catching Hell. The almost inconceivable Red Sox collapse of 1986 was brought into our homes, the night before an even more inconceivable Red Sox collapse in Baltimore. Nobody has linked the two together yet, but it is kind of odd, isn’t it?

But the ball that got through Buckner’s legs became a collector’s item, much the same way that Carlton Fisk’s home run in the 1975 World Series did, when George Foster picked it up and held onto it. The ball has changed hands a couple of times since then, being purchased first by Charlie Sheen and his tiger blood, and then by Seth Swirsky, who apparently is a songwriter and a baseball memorabilia collector.

Swirsky paid $64,000 for the ball in better economic times than this, and he’s hoping to turn a tidy profit on its sale on eBay later this month. He seems to believe that there is a soul out there with a million dollars burning a hole in his pocket. I sure hope he isn’t right about that.

The ball is irreplaceable, and probably one of the best conversation starters you could have for a Red Sox fan. But having said that, the suggestion that this ball could bring a million dollars at auction is crazier than anything I’ve heard in quite some time. Think of all the good you could do with a million dollars, with people losing their homes and dreams and hope. You couldn’t help everyone, or even make any meaningful dent in the problem. But to choose owning a baseball over that? I don’t get that one at all.

I’m hoping for a five digit sales figure for the “Buckner ball,” not the seven-figure bonanza that Seth Swirsky seems to want. And I’d be curious to know who has the kind of cash laying around to pay such an exorbitant price. By the end of the month we’ll probably know what happened, and whether the owner of the ball wants to be publicly identified or not. I’m going to advise whoever gets the ball to keep a low profile for awhile, or at least send a few dollars my way.

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