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Mientkiewicz Relieved That Ball Is Out of Play

Doug Mientkiewicz, then the first baseman for the Boston Red Sox, caught the final out of the 2004 World Series.
Doug Mientkiewicz, then the first baseman for the Boston Red Sox, caught the final out of the 2004 World Series. (By Mark Humphrey -- Associated Press)
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Now that the ball he caught for the final out in Boston's 2004 World Series sweep of the Cardinals is headed for the Hall of Fame, Doug Mientkiewicz says he can find some peace of mind.

"Me, my family, went through hell and back. It should have been handled differently," he said yesterday. "I'm glad it's over. I can put my [World Series] ring back on with pride now."

Mientkiewicz loaned the ball to the Red Sox for a year, but the team took him to court last November to get permanent ownership. The sides then agreed to arbitration and settled the matter.

"As important as that ball was, it was not worth what my family had to go through," said Mientkiewicz, who signed with the Royals during the offseason. "The worst for me was being sandwiched on the CNN ticker between the tsunami victims and the Laci Peterson murder trial. I thought that was kind of ridiculous, over a baseball."

Mientkiewicz was playing first base on Oct. 27, 2004, when pitcher Keith Foulke fielded the ball off the bat of Edgar Renteria and tossed it to him for the final out in Boston's first World Series title since 1918. Mientkiewicz claimed the ball as his own and secured it in a safe deposit box. He joked that it was his "retirement fund."

Mientkiewicz said he was not bitter toward Red Sox fans.

"Sure, I wanted to keep it. I was going to have the ball in the glove in a case," he said. "But once I knew I wasn't able to do that, my family and I, my dad and I sat down and he thought it would be cool if it went to the Hall of Fame. We agreed on that. It took some time prying it away from them, but I'm glad it ended up where it belonged in the first place."

Mientkiewicz was grateful to Red Sox fans for their support and to owner John Henry and GM Theo Epstein . He did not mention team president Larry Lucchino , who had headed the team's fight for the ball.

"I enjoyed my time in Boston. I enjoyed playing for the Red Sox. I enjoyed every moment I had in Fenway Park," he said. "Red Sox fans waited a long time for that ball and I'm glad now every baseball fan gets a chance to see it."

ยท STEROID SUSPENSION: Edward Rodriguez , a minor league pitcher in the Blue Jays organization, was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance.

The 21-year-old is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six relief appearances with the Class A Lansing Lugnuts.

-- From News Services

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