No flap this time: Varitek gives final ball to Red Sox
DENVER -- No ball flap this time.
Jason Varitek caught the final pitch from Jonathan Papelbon, a strikeout of pinch-hitter Seth Smith that sealed the second World Series title in four years for the Boston Red Sox, and the catcher tucked the ball in his back pocket.
"I'll give it back to the team," the Red Sox captain said after the 4-3 victory over Colorado on Sunday night that gave Boston a sweep of the Series. "Maybe we won't have a controversy this time."
In 2004, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz caught the final out, a grounder to pitcher Keith Foulke off the bat of the St. Louis Cardinals' Edgar Renteria. Mientkiewicz claimed the ball as his own, the Red Sox took him to court and it took 17 months to settle the dispute. After loaning the ball to the Red Sox for a year, Mientkiewicz gave it to the Hall of Fame.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said the team was prepared for this clincher.
"We have a club archivist who should be in here, should have retrieved it already," Lucchino said in the middle of the celebration in the visiting clubhouse in Coors Field. "An archivist made an effort the last time, unsuccessfully. But I'm sure we'll be more successful."
Varitek said he had stored the ball in a safe place.
Mientkiewicz, now with the New York Yankees, said he regretted the controversy.
"Me, my family, went through hell and back. It should have been handled differently," he said when the settlement was announced. "I can put my (World Series) ring back on with pride now."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)