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- Liz R., Managing Editor
Queens Native Murphy Grabs Bonds’ Historic BlastBy Martin M
Matt Murphy of Elmhurst was just passing through San Francisco’s AT&T Park on his way to Australia when Barry Bonds’ 756th homerun tore through the sky and into his lap. Next thing he knew, he was on the bottom of a pile of desperate fans.
"I just curled up under a bleacher and immediately there was a 30-person dog pile," Murphy told the New York Daily News. "I kept yelling, 'I got it! I got it! ...Get the bleep off of me, get the bleep off of me!'"
Murphy, who wore a Mets jersey atop a Mets t-shirt to the Giants-Nationals game on the night of August 7th, defended the ball from a horde of rabid fans, one of whom claims to have recovered his shoe, until he was escorted away by SFPD on hand at the stadium.
"I feel like I won the lottery," Murphy said.
Authorities estimate the ball could be worth anywhere between 1/2 and 2 million dollars. Murphy, 22, has promised to split the proceeds from the ball with his friend who attended the game with him, Amir Kamal, 21.
Fans who were in attendance recall an ugly fight for the valuable souvenir.
“Coming out of the pile, [Murphy] looked pretty messed up,” recalls Lynne Podesta, a firefighter in the Hayward Fire Department in Alameda County, who celebrated her birthday at the game on August 7th. She was seated in the first row of the center field bleachers – where Bonds’ 435-foot record-breaking blast landed. The fifth-inning homerun places Bonds in sole possession of the number one spot on the all-time home-run list ahead of Hank Aaron.
“I didn’t know [Murphy] was the one who got it,” said Podesta. “I just thought he was some kid who had been in the fight.”
“The kid behind us, the ball hit off his hand. That’s what made it go cockeyed and allowed [Murphy] to get to it. As soon as the ball was hit I stood up with my glove to try to catch it but I was getting pushed away. Then they had the scrum, and everyone piled on top of each other. It was incredible.”
Matthew Pantell, a native San Franciscan and first-year University of California San Francisco medical school student, attended the game with his father and brother. He witnessed the historic moment from high above the action, perched on his seat in the very last row of the stadium in left field.
“The whole stadium was standing and chanting ‘Barry’ in between pitches,” said Pantell, who nearly missed the game to study for an Anatomy test. “As soon as the ball landed, down in the bleachers there was this visible wave of motion, this big ripple effect of people as everyone converged on the ball.”
“There’s something great in that he just happened to by passing through. It’s part of the magic of baseball that anything can happen,” said Pantell. “And if it had to be caught by someone from out of town, at least it wasn’t a Yankee fan.”