The Ball: Mark McGwire's Home Run Ball and the Marketing of the American Dream

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9780670887767: The Ball: Mark McGwire's Home Run Ball and the Marketing of the American Dream

When Mark McGwire sent the first pitch from Montreal Expos rookie pitcher Carl Pavano rocketing into the left field stands at Busch Stadium on September 27, 1998, it was baseball's latest "shot heard round the world." A 26-year-old research scientist named Phil Ozersky happened to be sitting in those left field stands that fateful afternoon, and when he dove on the ball and hugged it close, his world was remade.

The Ball offers readers an inside account of what happened next --and what happened first. Author Daniel Paisner retraces the arc of this one ball, from the moment it was stitched by factory workers in a Rawlings plant in Turrialba, Costa Rica; to the moment it was finally sold at auction for a staggering $3.005 million to comic-book publisher Todd McFarlane.

This is a tale of fortune and legend, honor and greed, substance and style, based in large part on Paisner's unique access to Ozersky and his advisers, including St. Louis sports agent Michael D. Barnes. The Ball is the only in-depth account of the remarkable aftermath to this remarkable baseball season, shot through with compelling personalities, backroom dealings and unearthed legends from our national game. It is itself a gem of a collector's item, sure to find a place on the bookshelves of baseball fans and observers of the American scene.

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Review:

"The Ball" begins innocently enough in a Costa Rican factory as a Rawlings baseball, like thousands of others each year, is wound and sewn for use in the major leagues. The story ends months later at auction, when that very ball is sold for more than $3 million. Between those two events, Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire has hit it--and, up in the stands, a young research scientist named Phil Ozersky has retrieved what turned out to be a shot for history, the Mighty Mac's 70th home run of the season. Now, a hunk of horsehide is suddenly baseball's ultimate object of desire, an instrument of potential wealth and thus ineffable greed.

The story of this ball and its movements--and what it tells us about who we are as a society--makes for an odd and riveting cautionary tale, almost totemic in quality. McGwire made it clear during his hunt for Roger Maris's legendary record of 61 home runs in a season that he'd never pay for any of the record-breaking homers he hit and that their rightful place was on display in Cooperstown. Still, the smart money knows that everything today has a price, and someone is always willing to pay it. "We live in a time," Paisner reminds us, "when dollar bills change hands as carelessly as if they'd been printed by Milton Bradley ... when money burns the kinds of holes in our deep pockets that can't keep us from our impulses." On cue, Ozersky sleeps with the ball the first night and then puts it in his girlfriend's parents' safe the next day before securing it in a safe deposit box the day after. Then the marketers, agents, and auctioneers take center stage. Interestingly, the only person who exits the tale with hands completely clean is the star himself, Mark McGwire, happy to do his part and leave it at that. --Jeff Silverman

About the Author:

Daniel Paisner has collaborated on New York Times bestsellers with Anthony Quinn, Ed Koch, and George Pataki. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. A lifelong baseball fan, he lives in Port Washington, New York, with his wife and three children and his own prized collectible, a baseball signed by Brooklyn Dodger great Gil Hodges.

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Paisner,Daniel
Published by Viking (1999)
ISBN 10: 0670887765 ISBN 13: 9780670887767
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Book Description Viking, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition; First Printing. No markings or notes. Not remaindered. DJ not price clipped ($22.95) ; 206 pages; Mint copy!. Bookseller Inventory # 11334

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Daniel Paisner
Published by Viking Adult (1999)
ISBN 10: 0670887765 ISBN 13: 9780670887767
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Book Description Viking Adult, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0670887765

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