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Fan might keep home run No. 756

Fan might keep home run No. 756

It started with a crab sandwich. It ended with instant fame and the potential for gobs of money.

And in between, there was pandemonium.

Matt Murphy recalls that chaos lasting seemingly forever. The Queens native was just settling down in the AT&T Park bleachers with a crab sandwich and a beer, when Barry Bonds came to bat in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game in San Francisco.

Bonds connected. And the ball -- the 756th home run of his career -- headed straight for the crab meat.

"I knew I had like a second, and I just dove head first," Murphy said. "I was the first person to get my hands on it and I held onto it for dear life."

The ball initially landed above Murphy, but bounced off an eager crowd and made its way just to his right. And though he was the first one to arrive at the scene, he certainly wasn't the last. A giant scrum piled on top of Murphy, who was clutching the ball into his chest. He was the only one who could touch it, but he certainly wasn't the only one trying.

He was scratched, clawed, pulled and prodded until the San Francisco Police Department arrived and began pulling bodies away. And Murphy was so agitated by that time that he began fighting the police as well -- until he realized who they were.

"The police were there within a minute," Murphy said. "But that minute was the longest of my life."

Murphy's friend, Amir Kamal, had no idea what was happening all the while. He never even saw Murphy dive into the pile, but once he realized who was at the bottom, he began fighting his way through the crowd until the police pushed him back.

But he'll likely remember what happened next for the rest of his life.

"He like basically just looked at me," Kamal said, "and I knew he had the ball."

And thanks to that quick police work, he still has it. The SFPD whisked Murphy, 21, and Kamal, also 21, from their room at the Holiday Inn to a posh suite at the Hilton. Since then, they've both retold the story more than they'd care, spent their day with the phone ringing nonstop and living a dream they've often joked about, but never really believed.

"I haven't slept," Murphy said, "just because I'm holding on to making sure the ball is safe."

It is safe, stowed away in an "undisclosed location" for the time being. The two friends were only in San Francisco on a layover from their trip to Australia, where they'll be heading -- one day later than expected -- on Thursday.

Murphy will be back in the States in two weeks, at which point he'll decide just what to do with his new prize.

For now, he's torn. Part of him -- the baseball fan -- wants to keep it. The other part -- the businessman -- yearns to sell it. He'll take advice from others, and figure out what he'd likely have to pay in taxes to keep the ball before he decides to hold it. Collectors have estimated its worth in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, though that may not be exactly what Murphy is after.

"I really want to keep it because this is a serious part of history, and I'm a huge baseball fan," said Murphy, who aims to visit every ballpark at some point in his life. "Will I sell it? I'm not saying that I won't, I'm not saying that I will. I don't need the money to survive."

What he will have either way -- at least for now -- is the fame. It's fame unlike any the SUNY Buffalo grad has ever seen, and he's basking in it. After all, that's why he wore his Mets jersey to San Francisco, and why he wears it to every baseball game he attends.

Murphy, it seems, loves the attention.

"I'm going to wear my Mets jersey when I catch it, and I'm going be all over the news in my Mets jersey," was what he boasted to friends before the trip to San Francisco. "When I go to another stadium, I always rock the Mets."

Now everyone knows it. Thousands saw the game live, and millions on television. They saw the Mets jersey, the banged up kid from Queens, and the $100,000 prize. Seeing, they say, is believing.

But even Murphy still might not believe.

"I'll believe it when I see the dollar figures," Murphy said. "It just hasn't sunk in yet."

Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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