The most famous and cherished inanimate object in all of New England -- the ball used to secure the final out of the Boston Red Sox's 2004 World Series title -- is now at the center of a legal battle, after the team filed a lawsuit claiming it should be granted ownership.
Former Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who caught the final out from pitcher Keith Foulke -- giving the Red Sox their first championship in 86 years -- has claimed ownership, first placing the ball in a safety deposit box, then agreeing to lend it to the Red Sox this January for one year so it could be displayed at Fenway Park.
Under Mientkiewicz's agreement with the team, he would get the ball back at the end of the year "unless the ultimate issue of ownership has been otherwise resolved." However, lawyers from the team challenged that arrangement and have requested that the ball be held by the court until a judge rules on a dispute.
Mientkiewicz, the lawsuit alleges, "obtained the baseball through the course of his employment [and] the Red Sox are the rightful owners of the baseball."
"[I]t is very important that an artifact with this much history -- it was 86 years in the making -- be part of the club archive and be available for fans to experience," Red Sox chief legal officer Lucinda Treat told the Boston Globe.
-- Dave Sheinin