On HR ball, one fan's bad break is another's lucky bounce

Ripken's hit injures a nose

GW law student gets prize

September 03, 1999|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

The ball that Cal Ripken hit for his 400th career home run took a bad hop before it landed in the appreciative hands of George Washington University law student Daniel Gerkin.

It bounced off the face of another fan in the left field bleachers -- breaking his nose -- before it squirted through an orchard of outstretched arms and was caught on the fly by 24-year-old future attorney. The injured fan was not identified.

"As I was ushered out of the stands," Gerkin said, "I was offered $100,000 dollars, though I don't know how serious that was."

Ripken countered with a package of autographed items, including a dated bat, a ball, a cap and a pair of cleats. Gerkin probably could have done better on the open market, but he chose the opportunity to meet Ripken and hand the ball over to him personally. It was the second time that he has been present for a historic home run in the past 13 months.

"I'm a Mets fan and I was at Shea Stadium for [Mark] McGwire's 50th home run," he said.

Someone asked him which ball he would rather have caught.

"Remember where you are," Ripken chimed in playfully.

"I'm a Mets fan," Gerkin said, "so I would rather catch one from Cal."

Ripken said that the ball probably would be exhibited at one or more of the museums that display important items from his career.

"I have a responsibility to the Ripken Museum, the Babe Ruth Museum and the Baseball Hall of Fame," he said. `I think the ball will be put on display at those places, so that as many fans as possible can enjoy it."

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