PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Harry Caray's keeps its eye on the ball

CHICAGO: Restaurant Harry Caray's decision to buy an infamous baseball in an eBay auction last month resulted in millions of people hearing about the eatery, thanks to prominent media play from the likes of NBC's Today, CBS Morning News, ESPN, and MSNBC.

CHICAGO: Restaurant Harry Caray's decision to buy an infamous baseball in an eBay auction last month resulted in millions of people hearing about the eatery, thanks to prominent media play from the likes of NBC's Today, CBS Morning News, ESPN, and MSNBC.

"It was our goal to make Cubs fans feel better," said Beth Heller, event coordinator for Harry Caray's, and "to make sure this ball did not end up with a [Florida] Marlins fan." The ball in question was the one tipped by Cubs fan Steve Bartman during a National League playoff game against the Marlins last fall, just as the Cubs appeared on the verge of winning. The Cubs fell apart after the ball was deflected away from outfielder Moises Alou as he was about to catch it. The Bartman ball has now entered Cubs lore along with more than a half-century-old curse put on the team by another Chicago restaurant owner. Harry Caray was the long-time announcer for the Cubs. His restaurant is a popular Chicago gathering spot whose managing partner, Grant DePorter, decided to bid on the Bartman ball. DePorter won with a bid of $106,600 on December 19. By the end of the day, coverage of the purchase appeared in more than 500 newspapers across the US. Media calls came from as far away as Argentina and London. When Cubs fans began offering to help pay for the baseball, the restaurant decided to set up a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and for a Chicago area children's home. The goal is to raise $1 million. The eatery is also soliciting ideas from fans on how to destroy the ball on February 26 - the day it holds an annual toast to the deceased Caray. ESPN and MSNBC have asked to televise the destruction live. The final tally of media impressions for the restaurant remains a mystery at this point. However, for garnering exposure that's bound to be worth a lot more than the $106,600 pre-tax purchase price for the ball, we award Harry Caray's our PR Play of the Week.

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