Mets Fan Pa$$ing Through Snags No. 756

Matt Murphy, 22, of Queens, N.Y., was in the right place at the right time.

Aug. 8, 2007 — -- Sour grapes left sour faces around McCovey Cove as the ball Barry Bonds hit to make him baseball's home run king went to a guy in the stands from Queens … and a Mets fan, to boot.

Matt Murphy, 22 and decked out in a New York Mets shirt and cap, emerged from a brutal scrum in the right-center field bleachers and hoisted the prized No. 756 baseball in the air — a tough pill to swallow for the thousands of San Francisco Giants fans who have been the only vocal supporters of Bonds' chase for history.

According to The Associated Press, "His [Murphy's] face was bloodied and his clothes stretched and torn from his battle in the bleachers."

Though battered and bruised, Murphy was also wide-eyed, high-fiving and smiling as ballpark security and police shepherded him from the stands as YouTube directors rolled tape.

It was a hero's send-off for the unlikely fan, who had just become part of history. And, oh yeah, he's also about to be a lot richer.

While some believe the balls hit to set major records should remain in the hands of players, Bonds shrugged off the baseball, the value of which memorabilia experts have pegged at as much as $400,000 to $500,000.

"I don't want the ball," Bonds said flatly after Tuesday night's milestone, adding that he hoped Murphy didn't get hurt during the ruckus. "I've never believed a home run ball belonged to the player. If he caught it, it's his."

All that's left for Murphy is to find a buyer.

Whisked Away to Parts Unknown

Within 90 minutes of the historic home run, ballpark officials said that Murphy had left the AT&T park and was declining interviews.

The Giants announced that Murphy, wearing Bermuda shorts — the back pocket of which was the first new home for the high-priced souvenir — and a friend were on their way to Australia. They had purchased tickets on a whim before the game during a one-day San Francisco stopover.

Murphy's travel partner was decked out in New York Yankees gear and the two received requisite jeers from Giants fans lucky enough to witness a storied baseball record fall to a hometown guy known outside the Bay for a much more infamous reputation.

The top-end $500,000 estimate is well below the $3.2 million commanded by Mark McGwire's 70th home run baseball, during his record-breaking chase with Sammy Sosa in 1999.

That ball was purchased by Spawn comic book creator Todd McFarlane, who broke all records with the purchase. In 2003, McFarlane also bought Bonds' 73rd home run ball after two men went to court over the artifact and were told by a judge after a two-year standoff to sell the ball and split the proceeds. During the interim, the price of the ball plunged from an estimated $1.5 million to $517,500.

The record-tying ball Bonds hit for home run No. 755 against the San Diego Padres Saturday night was snagged by Adam Hughes, a 33-year-old plumber. Hughes said he didn't know what he would do with the prize.

But like Murphy, memorabilia experts say he should probably act fast, as the window for cashing in could quickly close.

As for the whereabouts of the record-breaking relic? Maybe it's somewhere over the Pacific on its way to an Australian vacation.

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