Jewish World Review Dec. 20, 2002 / 15 Teves, 5763

Dan Abrams

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Consumer Reports

The judge who dropped the ball in the battle over who owns Barry Bonds' 73rd home run ball, valued at nearly $2 million | There were two fans who staked claim over Barry Bonds' 73rd homerun ball, valued at nearly $2 million. The argument was held in court and a judge dropped the ball today in the battle over who owns the ball.

There was the guy who caught it first, had it in his glove for at least six-tenths of a second, and the guy who emerged from a pack of fans with ball in hand.

It's unclear whether the first guy dropped the ball or had it snagged from his mitt. Judge Kevin McCarthy deliberated for a month. Fans everywhere, eagerly awaiting a decision that would set precedent for foul balls and home runs around America. Instead of a bold, groundbreaking decision, we get a judicial copout.

The judge rules "Their legal claims are of equal quality and they are equally entitled to the ball."

He orders the ball be sold and the money split between the two. Oh come on, we need a judge here, not a parent. He may think he was acting in the tradition of King Solomon. Remember, Solomon suggested splitting the baby just to help assess who the real mother was. Solomon sought finality and got it. This ruling is more akin to Prince Hamlet, who spent his days in wallowing in indecision.

But putting the Bible and Shakespeare aside, in the movie "A League of Their Own", Tom Hanks said "there's no crying in baseball," and there are no ties either. We were entitled to a winner and a loser, not a balk. All right, I guess I'd be balking, too, if I didn't express some opinion here.

The judge found the guy who ended up with the ball "committed no wrongful act." So, when it comes to the rough world of freebie baseballs in the stands, I say apply the great principle of finders keepers.

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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors “The Abrams Report,” Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Today” and “Dateline NBC.” To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.


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