In the fifth inning at AT&T park in San Fransisco on August 7th, 2007 Washington National's pitcher Mike Bacsik took a ball that was worth less than $13 and threw it 60.5 feet into Barry Bond's strike-zone. With one swing of the bat, the ball appreciated 4.6 million percent as it flew over the outfield fence.
Yahoo!NEWS recently reported that the IRS had notified Matt Murphy that the ball he caught in San Francisco will be considered taxable income. That means that Murphy could face a tax bill of 35% of a reasonable estimate of the value of Bond's HR ball. If that's $600k then Murphy may be expected to shell out $210k even if he retains the ball as memorabilia instead of selling it!
Matt Murphy - who until that point was a college student from New York who simply stopped by the ballpark during a layover on his way to Australia - has suffered a bloody nose, was escorted from the stands with a security detail fit for any high ranking political figure, had his name printed next to Barry Bonds in every sports page across the country, and was escalated into the highest tax bracket.
Here's the rub. Matt Murphy, who is apparently a Met's fan (which - in my opinion - is much better than being a Giants fan) has to make a decision about the ball (if he hasn't already).
If he sells the ball for $600,000 (which is the figure I keep reading in news articles) then he'll have the $210,000 required for his tax bill. However, he will no longer retain that particular part of MLB history.
If he decides that he's a true baseball fan and would like to keep the part of history in which he participated (even if it's only a minor role) he would have to find $210,000 for Uncle Sam's piece of the pie. To Uncle Sam I say, "Boo!"
Below, I've listed a few options that I thought of. Please, keep in mind that while I've filled out tax returns (and enjoy doing so) my income is much lower, and I've never held an asset near the value of this particular piece.
1. Sell the ball to his buddy Amir for $100 and pay the tax on that amount. I know that $100 may not be a reasonable value as far as the IRS is concerned, but it's worth a shot.
2. Donate the ball to Cooperstown or the San Francisco Giants organization and write-off the gift. Hope that your picture will make it somewhere near the display case. I don't think you can write off a $600,000 gift, but again - it's worth a shot.
3. Donate the ball to the Matt Murphy Foundation of Memorabilia. Same argument, different donation target.
4. Sell the ball and keep $390,000 after taxes (to ensure that you are still in good standing with other baseball fans, you could always buy season tickets in the Shea Stadium suites for the next decade).
5. Hope that a federal investigator can find definitive evidence of steroid use on Barry Bond's part and wait for the value of the ball to slip below the water-level in Covey Cove.
6. Send me the ball, and let me deal with the headaches it provides.
Whatever he choses, congratulations to Matt Murphy and good luck with your 15 minutes.