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Who Owns the Million Dollar Baseball? by Stuart McMillen. Parody of
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox broke their 86-year losing streak and won the baseball World Series. Cartoon of baseball glove catching ball.
The atmosphere was ecstatic. Boston's curse was broken! The city celebrated as one. Cartoon baseball fans celebrating in stadium stand.
But in the aftermath, an act of selfishness soured the experience for many Red Sox fans. Cartoon baseball players posing with the World Series trophy.
Fans started asking: what happened to the 'winning ball'? After all, that ball was the object that physically embodied the breaking of the
It turned out that the first baseman still held possession of the ball. After making the final 'out' of the game, he immediately launched into celebrations with his team mates.
Throughout all of the excitement, he simply had not let go of what he’d caught. Baseball glove holding onto baseball, in front of cartoon of team celebrating.
Close up of baseball player looking at a ball in baseball glove - cartoon. 20 minutes after that magic moment, the first baseman looked to his left hand and was astonished to see that the ball was still in his glove.
High angle view of player looking down at baseball in his glove. The ecstasy dimmed, as he felt the significance of the object that he held. This was really it: the Red Sox’ first World Series-winning ball since 1918.
Cartoon Doug Mientkiewicz looking at ball in his glove. In a moment of clarity, he considered the value of the ball. Such an item would surely fetch in excess of one million dollars in the 'sports memorabilia' trade.
Cartoon Doug Mientkiewicz calling his wife over to him. He discreetly slipped the ball into his wife's handbag for safekeeping.
Low angle cartoon people reading newspaper. Fans learned of this in the week after the victory.
Low angle sports fan being interviewed by TV news reporter. A growing chorus started asking for the ball to be returned to the club. To be returned to the fans.
Baseball player being interviewed by journalist. The first baseman refused. He'd caught it. He'd been shrewd enough to see its value.
The ball was his. He wasn't handing it back.
Baseball player doing media conference surrounded by news cameramen. The louder the fans repeated their request, the more stubbornly the first baseman dug into his position. He jokingly called the ball his
Cartoon World Series baseball ball. Red Sox fans bristled at the
Question mark with baseball as the period of the mark. But who had actually created the value of that ball?
Cartoon baseball players catching and hitting and throwing. What about the other players who had been on the field that night? The ones who had made the runs, made the outs leading up to the final moment of the game. On the scoreboard, all runs, all outs, matter equally to the final result.
Illustrations of baseball players diving, sliding, and hitting. The World Series is a ‘best of seven’ playoff. What about the players who had helped the Red Sox to win the three earlier games of the 2004 World Series?
Cartoon baseball team players getting onto bus. What about all of the other wins of the 176 game season that the Red Sox had conquered? All of those victories helped to build the platform that led to the ‘final out’. And the first baseman hadn’t even joined the Red Sox club until the final three months of the 2004 season!
Cartoon baseball fans celebrating in stadium seats. What about the role of the fans in the victory? The fans who had sustained the team across the 2004 season.
Cheering, celebrating fans at baseball game in stands. The fans who never lost faith, despite Boston's 86-year losing streak? It had been the fans’ energy that had built the atmosphere that lifted the players to seize victory.
Red Sox fans entering baseball stadium. What about the role of the City of Boston in the victory? The city, and the state of Massachusetts, had invested in the infrastructure that hosted the Red Sox team. The subway and train lines.
Baseball fans walking into Fenway park as police officer watches on. The roads, sewers, traffic signals, and sidewalks surrounding Fenway Park. This background public investment was an unsung ingredient that set the foundation for the team’s successful year.
High angle baseball infielder catching ball in glove. These were all critical factors that underpinned the Red Sox’s victory, yet all value was being monopolised by the man who happened to be standing in the right place at the right time.
Closeup of baseball in glove cartoon. For the first baseman, that moment of 10:40pm on 27 October 2004 was disconnected from all prior history and context.
Baseball fans exiting Fenway Park stadium onto street corner. The Red Sox controversy symbolises a much bigger question that we face.
Rear view of fan wearing Red Sox cap, looking over balcony down to crowd on street below. How do we share the wealth that society creates?
Pedestrians crossing at crosswalk at street intersection, with side view of taxi driver in car looking ahead.
Cartoon man in suit opening door to exit rear door of taxi. Many successful people view other members of society as irrelevant to their own personal fortune.
Cartoon businessman in suit walking up stairs, talking on phone. When recounting their own “story of success”, they speak of their own talents.
Cartoon bald businessman being interviewed, talking to interviewer. They speak of their own character. They speak of their own actions.
Closeup of man with bald head talking to interviewer. They’ll tell you all about their achievements...
Closeup of hand of person gesturing with hand as they speak. ...with each story pivoting on their own role in creating their personal success.
Businessman with bald head leaning back in seat at office desk, speaking to interviewer. But by sharply focusing on themselves, …
Drawing of busy open-plan office, in background of scene. … they leave many important things out of the frame.
Cartoon businessman looking at wall of photo frames on office wall. What begins as innocent self-regard for one’s achievements...
Annoyed man removing photo frame from the wall and defacing the photo with a red marker pen. ...can turn into a full-scale revisionist history.
Charming man in suit on stage, speaking. Each successive re-telling of their 'story' emphasises their own role in the success, and de-emphasises the roles of other factors.
Photo with many objects crossed out with red pen. The role of the public domain disappears from sight. The crucial help of other people disappears from sight.
Group photo of people, with most faces crossed out with red lines. The narrative becomes “I did it all on my own”.
Low angle view of man at office desk, with book on desk title
View of people browsing the bookshelves of a large public library. The people who “did it all themselves” so often fail to see the deep and diverse array of factors that were needed, …
Books on the return shelving cart of library. Book titles include
Rear view of mother walking with daughter, holding her hand. The diverse range of people who were needed…
Busy-looking businessman concentrating at laptop computer, behind a door with sign saying 'PRIVATE'. To give them the opportunity to do their final masterstrokes. No one truly “does it alone”.
Player in baseball uniform speaking at a media conference. After 18 months of evasion, the first baseman, Doug Mientkiewicz decided to return the winning baseball to the public.
Cartoon Doug Mientkiewicz speaking, closeup. Making peace, he expressed his regret at his actions, noting how the controversy had haunted him. He had been pigeonholed as a “villain” by slanted journalists, who took his light-hearted quotes out of context. He had deliberately hidden from the media witch-hunt, while trying to resolve the dispute with the Red Sox privately.
Rear view of man speaking at press conference, showing crowd that he is addressing in background. Mientkiewicz and the Red Sox agreed for the ball to be put on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
View of backs of young boys wearing Boston Red Sox team apparel. With this act, pocketing the ball was no longer the final, selfish end to Mientkiewicz’s story.
View of baseball player looking at sports memorabilia autographed ball inside glass case. Instead, returning the ball to the public became the gracious gesture that completed the circle.
Young baseball fans staring through glass window display case at sports memorabilia display in museum.
Restoring wealth to the system that had given so much to him. Closeup of baseball, draw realistically and out of focus.
Cartoon drawing of faces of amazed young boys in baseball uniforms. Excited baseball fans staring at autographed baseball souvenir memorabilia.
Cartoon drawing of faces of amazed young boys in baseball uniforms. Excited baseball fans staring at autographed baseball souvenir memorabilia.Cartoon drawing of faces of amazed young boys in baseball uniforms. Excited baseball fans staring at autographed baseball souvenir memorabilia.

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This comic describes the incident surrounding the ownership of the 2004 World Series winning ball by Boston Red Sox player Doug Mientkiewicz. Read my blog post about this comic for my thoughts on the ‘ballgate’ scandal, and for my reference list.

Also read my blog post Setting the foundation: the overlooked public factors of individual success, about the social and economic themes of this comic, and why the protagonist looks like Jeff Bezos.
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