Jones reaches home on $500,000 homer Murray ball sold to Lasky, who asks fans for input

September 25, 1996|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Dan Jones fidgeted in his chair with the nervous anticipation of an expectant father.

Jones, suddenly a celebrity since catching Eddie Murray's 500th home run ball, sat wide-eyed on a makeshift stage outside the HarborInn at Pier Five yesterday as a security guard carrying a canvas bag emerged from a Brinks truck and was led to the stage by a jazz band playing "When The Saints Go Marching In."

The spectacle of a news conference, complete with vendors handing out complimentary peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks and a group sing-along of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," was designed to mark the official exchange of Murray's 500th home run ball from Jones to local businessman Michael Lasky, who purchased the baseball for $500,000.

The security guard reached into the bag and pulled out a smaller bag, from which he took out a baseball -- the baseball.

Like a doctor handing over a newborn to its father, the security guard gingerly gave the baseball to Jones, who flashed a proud smile and held it up for the crowd, largely comprised of media and members of Jones' family.

Jones then handed it to Lasky and as they mugged for the cameras, someone asked if Lasky had the check with him.

"Oh, yeah, the check," said Lasky, as he handed over an enlarged replica of a check for $500,000 made out to Daniel Jones. Later, when asked about the specific terms of the exchange, Lasky referred to the symbolic check.

"Well, actually, this is probably real money," said Lasky, the president and chief executive officer of Inphomation Communications, the Baltimore company that runs infomercials for psychic advice. "This probably could be cashed."

Jones, however, wasn't buying it.

In reality, Lasky and Jones signed a contract stating that Jones will receive $25,000 payments from an annuity fund over 20 years. Lasky said he is actually paying $300,000, with interest on the annuity providing the rest.

Jones, a single 30-year-old who works for a marketing firm in Towson, said he hasn't thought about what he will do with the money.

"I don't let myself think about those kind of situations until everything's in place," he said.

Lasky addressed the question as to where the baseball would be kept in dramatic fashion.

Two placards draped in black were unveiled, displaying a 900 number that people can call to vote for whether the baseball should go to the Babe Ruth Museum here or the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Each call will cost 95 cents with the proceeds going to Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology.

When asked why he didn't give the baseball to Murray, Jones pointed to the money that will go to charity because of the baseball.

"This is a situation where everybody benefits," he said. " Sure I benefited from it, too."

Pub Date: 9/25/96

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