Merrill Lynch's Ron Rosenberg has a bit of an infamous World Series bat - and intends to hit a homer for needy kids with it.
Even the most casual of baseball fans has seen the video 100 times.
Game 2 of the 2000 World Series. First inning. New York Yankee hurler Roger Clemens pitches to the Mets' Mike Piazza. On a 1-2 pitch, Piazza slaps a foul ball, shattering his bat in three pieces. Clemens picks up a sizable chunk of the bat near the pitcher's mound and throws it toward Piazza. It sails to within two feet of Piazza as he jogs toward first base.
The Mets catcher glares at the pitcher and takes a few intimidating steps toward Clemens. The home plate umpire gets between the two as both bullpens empty.
So what happened to the pieces of Piazza's broken bat?
Piazza still has the barrel that Clemens threw toward him. Keith Olbermann of Fox Sports nabbed the handle after the game and showed it on television. And Ron Rosenberg, Merrill Lynch managing director of alternative investments, has the 21-inch midsection of the infamous bat.
From his seat in the front row, Rosenberg simply asked the bat-boy for the splintered lumber.
To Rosenberg's astonishment, the kid handed him some World Series history. He called his wife on a cell phone to tell her and then sat for eight more innings with the wood under his coat.
Since that October night, Piazza's agent and the Mets' front office have contacted Rosenberg. Piazza's representatives, Rosenberg and Olbermann are in discussions about what to do with their respective chunks of historic timber. Rosenberg wants the notorious bat reassembled, autographed by Piazza and sold at auction.
Then, "a good percentage of the proceeds," estimated at more than $100,000, would be donated to Rosenberg's favorite charity, Morry's Camp, a summer camp for disadvantaged kids.
The camp, named after outdoor enthusiast and gear manufacturer Morry Stein, hosts at-risk children from the inner city for four weeks each summer. The kids are required to maintain good grades and stay out of trouble in order to return to the camp in Glen Bay, N.Y., the following year.
Somehow it fits that Rosenberg ended up with part of the bat. He was born (where else?) in New York in 1962, the same year the Mets, a ragtag expansion team managed by Casey Stengel, first took the field. Rosenberg's dad put a Mets cap on his tiny head, and a love affair was born.
Thirty-eight years later, with his beloved Mets in the Series, Rosenberg was a guest of John Henry, owner of the Florida Marlins and manager of John Henry Funds, when one of the more unusual Fall Classic incidents took place before him.
"We do a lot of business together," says Rosenberg, who is responsible for Merrill's distribution of hedge funds, exchange funds and other managed account products. "We distribute a lot of [John Henry] funds and products."
Of Clemens' bat hurling, Rosenberg says: "It was just a knee-jerk reaction. He gave no thought to what he was doing."
Rosenberg, on the other hand, has given lots of thought to what that bat can do for Morry's Camp. Founded for children ages 10 to 14, the program was recently expanded to welcome older kids. So the camp could really use the money the broken stick could fetch, he says. Merrill has also committed to donate a percentage of any money the bat brings in.
"Kids turn out better when they go to camp," says Rosenberg, a camp board member. "It's much better to send a kid to camp than have him sitting around in the city all summer getting into trouble or worse."