“Didn’t hurt,” he said. “I can’t explain it. I didn’t feel a thing.”
“I turned around, and he was gone,” she said.
A few weeks later, Durante sold the ball for $5,000 to Sam Gordon of Sam’s Original Ranch Wagon restaurant, who as part of the deal gave the ball to Maris. The hitter donated it to the Hall of Fame in 1973.
“I was taking home $60 a week. That was like almost a year-and-a-half’s pay if you figure it out,” Durante said. “So I gave my parents $2,500 of it because they were in debt, and I wanted to help them out. I always wanted to help them out as a kid.”
Sal and Rosemarie married that Oct. 29, and the rest of the money was used to help set up their home. They live now on Staten Island, and he retired about three years ago after 29 years as a school bus driver.
There was a commotion over Maris‘ home run _ baseball commissioner Ford Frick said the record book should list it with a special mark, such as an asterisk, because his season was eight games longer than Ruth’s. That seems simple compared with the effect of steroids.
Famous home run balls have soared in value. Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn comic books, paid $3 million for McGwire’s 70th of 1998, with 26-year-old genetic researcher Phil Ozersky getting $2.7 million after the auction commission.
Durante is happy with his rich memories. He thought back to when he was whisked to the television booth that day to be interviewed by Mel Allen.
“Phil Rizzuto comes out of the booth,” Durante said, speaking of the Hall of Fame shortstop and Yankees broadcaster. “He goes, ‘Hey, congratulations. I’m glad you’re a paisano.’ Those were his first words.”