Hall has only two other 'final out' balls

Updated: January 11, 2005, 9:15 PM ET
Associated Press

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Fred Claire donated the ball from the final out of the 1988 World Series to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

"It's time for the baseball to be delivered to its proper home," Claire said. "It's the only resting place that makes sense so that the baseball and the memories it carries related to the 1988 World Series can be shared with all of the fans of the game."

After Orel Hershiser struck out Oakland's Tony Phillips to complete the Dodgers' 4-1 series victory over the Athletics, catcher Rick Dempsey gave the ball to Claire, who spent almost 30 years in the Dodgers' organization and served as the team's GM from 1987-1998. The prized possession spent the next 16 years on Claire's bookshelf.

The donation came less than a week after Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz caused a stir when he said he was keeping the ball that ended Boston's 86-year championship drought. The Red Sox want it for their archives.

Claire acknowledged that the tug-of-war played a small part in his decision to give up the ball.

"It pointed out the significance of the last out of the World Series," Claire said. "It's not a reflection on Doug or Boston or anybody else.

"But if it starts a trend, so much the better."

A larger factor was Claire's discovery that the Hall of Fame owned just two "final out" baseballs -- the 1903 ball thrown by Boston pitcher Bill Dinneen to strike out Pittsburgh's Honus Wagner and the 1889 ball New York Giants catcher Buck Ewing used to throw out Brooklyn's Darby O'Brien stealing.

"I was astounded to see that the last World Series ball that the Hall had was from 1903," Claire said.

"The Hall of Fame relies on donations from fans and members of baseball's family," said president Dale Petroskey. "We are honored that Fred would think of Cooperstown, but not surprised, given his profound respect for the game and its glorious history."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press