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Why Did the Guy Who Got $750K for Catching Barry Bonds' Home Run Ball Give Half to His Friend? Because a deal is a deal, that's why.

By Gene Marks Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Lisa Blumenfeld | Getty Images

Back in 2007 Barry Bonds was chasing the single season home run record previously set by Mark McGuire. On August 7, Bonds broke that record by launching a fifth inning pitch into the right field stands for home run number 756.

Matt Murphy, 21, caught that ball.

It turns out that Murphy was only at the game on a whim. He and his friend, Amir, were on their way to Australia for a vacation and both decided to catch a Giants game while in San Francisco. Obviously, he caught a lot more than that.

Not that it was easy. The ball landed about 30 feet to his right and six rows behind him, bounced, glanced off another fan's hands and hit the pavement. Murphy dove head-first into a pile of other fortune-seekers, risking life and limb to grab it. "Everyone landed on my leg," Murphy told Time Magazine. "So that pressure hurt the most. There was a point when I couldn't really breathe. But I wasn't worried about breathing. I was thinking about my grip."

Related: Building a Business Partnership That Lasts

Murphy was taken away with blood gushing from his nose and mouth, but with the ball in his firm possession.

Now, this was a big deal. After considering a lot of offers over the next few weeks, Murphy ultimately sold the ball through Sotheby's Auction House. After a spirited bidding it was purchased for $752,467 by the famous designer, Marc Ecko, who ultimately donated the ball to the Baseball Hall of Fame .

So tell me: what would you do with all that money? Buy a house? Go to Vegas? Not Murphy. The first thing that he did was give half of it to his friend Amir.


"Because we made a deal," he told Time. "As ludicrous as the deal may sound, we still made a deal. And I'm not that type of person." Both men, knowing full well that they were attending a potentially historic game, made a pact beforehand that in the highly unlikely possibility that either of them would catch the home run ball they would both split the profits. And so they did.

Related: 3 Ways to Strengthen Your Partnership

I could write about how, instead of blowing it all on nonsense, Murphy took his half of the winnings and, with a few partners, invested in a sneaker business called Solefood which - at least it seems - is still up and running. I could write about how capital can come from anywhere and investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.

But the real story here is about deal making. Murphy made a deal with his friend. The probability that there would ever be a payout was remote. And clearly, it was Murphy who took the biggest risk, did the lion's share of the work and absorbed the most pain. He's the guy actually shed blood!

But when it came time to pay up, he paid up. That's because when honest, reliable business people make deals they don't go back and renegotiate or cry later or say not fair, not fair! They live up to their commitments. You don't think people normally do this? Try running a company for about 25 years and you'll see what I mean.

Did Murphy have his doubts about paying such a huge chunk of change to his friend? "A little bit," he admitted to Time. "Amir didn't do thaaaaat much. But he helped out, he was there, and if he had caught it, he would have cut me the same deal, and stuck to it."

Who wouldn't want to do business with a guy like that?

Gene Marks

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

President of The Marks Group

Gene Marks is a CPA and owner of The Marks Group PC, a ten-person technology and financial consulting firm located near Philadelphia founded in 1994.

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