Mark McGwire is picking up a pretty good collection of baseballs.

Since McGwire hit his 56th home run, tying the National League record, last week in Miami against the Florida Marlins, the fan catching the ball has faced a dilemma: Keep the potentially valuable ball and sell it to a colletor; or give it back to McGwire.

So far, the St. Louis Cardinals slugger got them all back, including historic No. 61 hit Monday against the Chicago Cubs. The blast tied Roger Maris' 37-year-old single-season record, arguably the most famous in sports.

Mike Davidson, 28, won the mad scramble for the ball Monday. And he said he never considered keeping it.

The real prize will be the ball McGwire hits for home run No. 62, which some experts believe could fetch $1 million or more, but Davidson's ball would be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

"It will mean more to him and baseball than it will to me," said Davidson, who wants only a chance to meet McGwire and an autographed jersey in return.

That's a laudable mind-set for a catering manager and soon-to-be first-time father who sometimes works 80-hour weeks. He was due at work at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and said he hoped to get home in time to watch Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. game.

Davidson recalled a distant relative who won a lottery, then had to put up with constant harassment from people trying to get a piece of the windfall.

"I figure it would be more aggravation with people coming out of the woodwork," he said.

Davidson was seated in section 281, row 1, seat 1, just inside the left-field foul line, when McGwire stepped into the 1-1 pitch from Cubs starter Mike Morgan.

"It came down, bounced off about five people's hands," Davidson said. "Rolled underneath my seat. I picked it up."

Well, it wasn't quite that easy.

Fans looked like NFL players diving for a fumble as the ball bounced their way. As the pileup cleared, Davidson, appropriately attired in a red "McGwire 25" jersey, emerged with the ball. He stopped at a store and paid $57 for the jersey prior to the game.

"I didn't have anything red to wear," he said.

Nick Hinkley of Indianapolis was among those who just missed out on the ball.

"I had my hands on it, then everybody jumped on top of me," Hinkley said. "The guy who got it threw me off it."