SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Bonds hit it and Alex Popov may have caught it, but Patrick Hayashi emerged from a scrum of Giants fans to become the happy owner of the ball the San Francisco slugger smacked Sunday for his 73rd homer.
Hayashi was grinning at the time, but he’s tight-lipped now about what he’ll do with the ball, valued at perhaps $1 million.
“I am just savoring the moment,” Hayashi, 36, said in an e-mail that has served as his only public comment.
Instead, Popov’s doing the talking. Television footage shows that Popov, a health-food restaurateur from Berkeley, gloved the ball but was mobbed by a crush of clawing fans. Someone ripped the ball from his mitt and it ended up in Hayashi’s hands.
Now the catcher on the fly is brandishing a videotape and a lawyer, saying that if Hayashi doesn’t give back the ball he will seek criminal charges.
Giants officials aren’t swayed.
“Once Major League Baseball identifies the individual with possession of the ball, that’s the end of that,” said Jorge Costa, Giants senior vice president of ballpark operations.