BOSTON - The Red Sox asked a judge to let the team keep the ball that first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz caught for the final out that clinched the 2004 World Series.
Ownership of the ball has been in dispute during the 13 months since pitcher Keith Foulke flipped it to Mientkiewicz, giving Boston a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals and its first World Series championship in 86 years.
Mientkiewicz, who clutched the ball in his glove and joined teammates in celebration, later put the ball in a safe deposit box and claimed ownership when the Red Sox asked for it.
In January, after the former Florida State standout was traded to the Mets, he loaned the ball to the Red Sox for one year. He would get it back "unless the ultimate issue of ownership has been otherwise resolved," the agreement said.
Lawyers for the Red Sox filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking the court to keep the ball or place it in some other "secure location" until a judge decides the ownership question.
After Mientkiewicz agreed to loan the ball to the team, it was delivered to Fenway Park in a Brinks armored truck. The ball joined the World Series trophy on a tour of Massachusetts cities and towns. "I want the fans to see it," Mientkiewicz said at the time, "and that's what both the Red Sox and I agreed on."
"We have made numerous approaches to the Mientkiewiczes and to their representatives to seek an amicable private settlement, and to ensure that this piece of club history remains accessible to all our fans," Red Sox lawyer Lucinda Treat said, adding that the organization holds no ill-will toward Mientkiewicz. "All were rebuffed."
Gordon, Phils agree to $18M deal
Tom Gordon and Philadelphia reached a preliminary agreement on an $18-million, three-year contract, giving the Phillies a replacement for departed closer Billy Wagner. Gordon also was negotiating with the Yankees and Indians before agreeing to the deal with the Phillies, which still must be finalized.
The 38-year-old right-hander spent the past two seasons with the Yankees as Mariano Rivera's primary setup man.
In other team news, free-agent catcher Sal Fasano agreed to a $425,000, one-year contract.
BRAVES: Rafael Furcal's agent said the team remains in contention to keep the shortstop, who also is being courted by the Cubs and Dodgers. Whichever team doesn't get Furcal likely will pursue a trade for Rays shortstop Julio Lugo. ... GM John Schuerholz said a representative for free agent Kyle Farnsworth told him the reliever was leaving to sign with the Yankees.
CUBS: Minor-league reliever Jermaine Van Buren was traded to Boston for a player to be named.
GIANTS: Reliever Tim Worrell agreed to a $4-million, two-year deal. Worrell, who was with San Francisco from 2001-03, spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia and Arizona.
NATIONALS: Baseball's chief negotiator on the lease for the team's new ballpark said the sport won't consider changing the site unless Washington's mayor asks for it. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf met with members of the District of Columbia Council, several of whom oppose Washington's agreement with baseball last year to move the Montreal Expos to the nation's capital. Reinsdorf said that Mayor Anthony Williams assured him that no change in site will be requested.