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Would you have kept the ball from Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit?

Jul 11, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Getty Images

I joked last week that there was no need to put a special marking on Derek Jeter‘s 3000th hit ball because it was almost certain that it would be some infielder who got it.  Boy, that was wrong. Unless you were under a rock all weekend you know that number 3,000 was a homer. You also know that the fan who caught it — a 23-year-old man named Christian Lopez — simply gave the ball back to Jeter rather than keep it and auction it off for what would probably be several hundred thousand dollars.

That led to a lot of stories about Lopez’s selflessness — and got Lopez premium tickets for the rest of the season and a ton of replacement memorabilia — but I can’t say I would have made the same decision he did.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a 23-year-old dude. I have a mortgage and bills to pay and kids who look like they’ll be going to college if I don’t kill them first. A couple hundred grand would help all of that out nicely.  Sure, it was a nice gesture on some level that Jeter got his trophy, but when you consider that he already has a gigantic mansion, a scorching hot girlfriend, five World Series rings, hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank and the adoration of millions and millions of people — and you realize that the Yankees and Jeter are making millions off of the hit already — I can’t say that I’d lose a wink of sleep over him not having his 3,000th hit ball.

Hell, if Jeter wanted it that bad, he could bid on it just like everyone else. It would only cost him pocket change. For a regular person, keeping that ball could mean the difference between making ends meet or not.  The grand total of Jeter’s inconvenience would be a quick cell phone call to his business manager to authorize a bid. It doesn’t seem like it would be a tough call. Even this Lopez guy’s dad agrees that his son might not have gotten that call right.

But then again, I’m not the sentimental type, and you’ve heard me go on and on about how I place little value on the possessing of memorabilia (short version: it’s the memories, not the totems of those memories, that matter).  Maybe you’re wired differently than I am and you, like Mr. Lopez, would have given Derek Jeter his ball back.  So let’s vote on it:

Before seeing any vote totals, I’m willing to bet that there will be a disconnect between the kudos given this Lopez guy for being noble and selfless and the number of people who would have kept the ball and taken care of themselves before they took care of Derek Jeter. But don’t let my cynical take influence your vote.

  1. CJ - Jul 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    I’d have at least taken the thing home, make a couple calls to get an idea what the thing was worth, and give Jeter the first chance at it. I’m all for selflessness and all, but the guy was basically handed a blank check, and it was perfectly within his right to use it. But instead he returned it for a bag of baseballs and partial season tickets.

    • superpriebe - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      Here, here. I’m not a greedy man in the least, but to me it’s the same principal as ballplayers taking millions to play a game. The fact is that there is a lot of money in baseball, and he’s got a commodity that is worth a lot. I wouldn’t have wanted to milk it for every penny….and I would like to give it to Jeter…but I’d happily tell them that I know it’s worth a lot more than what they offered, and that they should do better.

  2. halladaysbiceps - Jul 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Keep the ball and auction it off. No doubt about it. The young man threw away 500 K to 1 mil+ away.

    It’s worth more to him than Jeter or the Yankees. This is not even up for a moral discussion.

    In my opinion, this ball should be worthless, monetarily speaking. But, people will pay.

  3. Phillies Homer - Jul 11, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    I think it’s a tad different when you’re a diehard fan of the team in question… and perhaps the player.

    This guy seems ecstatic to be shaking hands with Jeter. So, to catch his ball (ha ha, i’m not editing that) and hand it back to him might be worth more than 350k.

    If it was Utley’s homer for 3,000 that fell onto my lap… I think it’d be more of a struggling decision to give it back than to keep it/sell it.

    If I caught Jeter’s 3,000 than you can bet your ass that I’m selling that bad boy!!

  4. kopy - Jul 11, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    I would have offered to sell it to the Yankees right away. I’m 23 too, but I have student loans, bills, car payments, etc. I figure the ball is worth around 500k-1mill, I tell the Yankees I will hand it over right now for 50-100 grand. Depending on how much I get, I could either pay off all my debts entirely or make a huge dent in them, and I could rid myself of the stress of owning the ball before the game is even over.

    Considering how much the Yankees are profiting off this milestone, there’s no way they don’t go for it.

  5. Kevin S. - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    I’d sell it, and I am a die-hard Yankee fan. As stated above, student loans, bills, etc. trump any sort of fandom there.

  6. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    I’m definitely in the sell it crowd, only because I live in NC so season tickets would be an absolute waste. However, people bring up that the ball is worth 500K-1M, is it really? Didn’t Bonds 73HR ball fetch like 1/3 the price that McGwire’s 70 did? What’s the market on a ball for an achievement that 27* other people have accomplished? Would 300K be enough? It definitely would be for me. But what about 100k? Or 50K?

    *Being the first full time Yankee to hit 3000 is an achievement in and of itself considering the names that have played for them, but how many casual fans knew this?

    • kopy - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:14 AM

      Barry Bonds’ HR ball sold for $752K. That’s basically where I got my figure of 500-1000k. Bonds’ ball is the greater milestone, but I figure that the difference would be washed by inflation and Jeter playing in New York. An auction would have all those Wall St. cats driving the price up huge.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:20 AM

        Which ball? Didn’t McGwire’s 70 fetch like $3M from Todd (Seth?) McFarlane? I knew 73 didn’t get as much, didn’t realize it was only 752K?

      • kopy - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:24 AM

        Yeah sorry, I noticed the difference and debated a double post. The $752K was for the ball that broke Hank Aaron’s record, home run no. 756.

      • henryd3rd - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:56 AM

        Jeter is one of the most beloved Yankees of all times and there is no doubt that that ball would have surpassed Bond’s home run bal total easilyl plus how much are Bond’s & McGuire’s balls worth “excuse the pun” today after what we know about them now?

    • anthonioustheprettygood - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:14 AM

      Keep in mind that the Yankees have some of the richest fans of any team. I’d bet there are plenty of NY millionaires who would buy that ball for a few hundred thousand just as a “trophy” as opposed to its actual worth. And a million? no way. But I agree, that ball wouldn’t be worth as much to a regular baseball collector.

    • Steve A - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:24 AM

      I read (before the hit) that the ball would fetch around $250K at auction. That was assuming that the ball was hit for a home run and a fan, rather than Jeter, ended up with the ball.

  7. yankeesfanlen - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Ethics questions from a lawyer at 9AM Monday morning? Oh, the Humanity.
    Here’s the deal- there is a middle course of action, a kind of win-win. Is Gene Monahan’s tricked out F-150 still in the bowels of Yankee Stadium? It was a display sample anyway. And the dog too.
    Lifetime season tickets and a chaueffer. I hate GWB traffic before game time.

    And can I talk to ARod instead?

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      You know they’d tell you to leave A-Rod alone.

  8. anthonioustheprettygood - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    WOW. I’d have listed that thing on Ebay before the inning was bver. Opportunities like that are so rare; a chance to make a few hundred thousand. I admire this guy on one hand, but on the other I just shake my head. Selling the ball doesn’t make you a bad person. Heck, if you don’t want the money donate it to a charity

  9. philly56 - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    He probably just got caught up in the moment and gave it back without really thinking about it – in a week or two Lopez is going to be regretting the hell out of his decision when he realizes what he did.

    I would absolutely have sold it.

  10. fattycoats - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Screw the season tickets and the memorabilia, all I would have asked from the Yankees was to pay off my student loan debt :)

  11. uyf1950 - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Find out what’s it’s worth. Then offer it to Jeter and or the Yankees at the same price. Give them the right of 1st refusal. If they don’t want it sell it to the highest bidder.

  12. Jonny 5 - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    You’re g-damn right I’d auction it off. Let that multimillionaire, who’s had it handed to him his whole life pay through the nose for something for a change. Do we need more proof that Jeter has made a deal with the devil?

  13. phukyouk - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    I got a wife and 2 kids… ‘Nuff said

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      So…you’d sell them and keep the ball?

  14. FC - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    I’m not a Yankees fan or a Jeter fan so yeah it would have been a simple decision: Sell it. Like others above, it would be nice to provide for the family and (future) kids. It’s not like Jeter can’t afford it. I’m sure he can out bid ANYBODY. Maybe give Jeter first crack at it: “Make me an offer man!” .And like Craig mentioned it would be pocket change in comparison to all the millions he’s made. The Yankees are easily making off far more money with all the attendance and associated DJ3K merchandise.

    By the way using that specific picture is unfortunate…they caught the kid smiling and Jeter has a weird expression on his face: “Think of the ball… this will only last a half-hour at most, dirt cheap compared to an auction…” JK. I’m sure it was an odd coincidence…

    • FC - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:22 AM

      And anyways, there are tons of other pictures with both guys smiling, I’m starting to suspect Craig picked that one on purpose!

  15. mornelithe - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    I’d definitely auction it, though, if it were a bit of memorabilia from someone on my team then I’d probably be more willing to make exceptions to get it back in the hands of the person who set the record. So, I can definitely understand and appreciate what this fellow did for Jeter. But, you also make a pretty good point, Jeter’s hardly hurting for money, and such a piece of history could really help square your finances in a period of time where everyone’s hurting.

  16. opiedamus - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    I’d tell Bud Selig that I’d donate the ball only if he let Pete Rose into the HOF…… otherwise, I’d sell the hell out of it, but not before taking it on a victory lap around NYC’s burroughs. Every bar, tavern, and whistle stop. Charge $10/picture taken with it and charge the bar a nice little piece to host the event. $1,000/hour sounds about right. Get it sponsored by Red Bull or 5-Hour energy, so I could maximize both the amount of hours in the day and $$ to be made BEFORE I sell it for a few hundred thousand.

    Hell, I might even host a press conference whereby I “officially” announce the new destination of my ball. ESPN would be more than willing to show that…….

    • FC - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      Man I hope you hire security with you. It would easy for someone to lose their cool and try to rip it out of your hand or steal it.

      • opiedamus - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        I’m pretty sure that Seal Team 6 has some down time on their hands……

  17. philly56 - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    You think Jeter will follow suit with Lopez’s graciousness and give it to cooperstown or stick it some shrine to himself in his mansion?

    • shaggylocks - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:07 AM

      You talk like having a shrine to yourself in your mansion is a bad thing. If I had a huge-ass mansion that I bought with my HOF baseball skills, I’d probably have a trophy room too. Let Cooperstown have my stuff after I die. I may not be able to take it with me, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it while I’m alive.

  18. frankvzappa - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    I would have auctioned it off to the highest bidder willing to sign a contract that they would have it immediately destroyed and the video circulated on youtube.

  19. dglnj - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    4 tickets in the Champions Suite for the remaining 32 home games have a face value of around $45k. Derek Jeter autographed bats and jerseys are running around $1k, and autographed baseballs around $500, so he got merchandise valued somewhere north of $50k.

    Plus, a decent memorabilia auction house should be able to get much more than $1k for “one of only three Derek Jeter 3000th hit autographed bats” – if he wanted to sell, say, two of the bats, two of the balls, and one of the jerseys and played his cards right in trickling them out over the next few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if he cleared $25k for them.

    It’s not like all he got was a polite “Thank you” and a chance to shake Jeter’s hand.

    • kellyb9 - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      You raise a really good point. Maybe instead of keeping the ball and selling it for all its worth, someone can use the ball to get something else that may still be worth a lot of money, but doesn’t have the same sentimental value to Jeter. For example, perhaps the bat he hit the HR with may not mean as much to him since he has a ton of those. So he signs that bat, and the guy has something to auction off. I almost think there should be one of those unwritten rules – handing him money directly seems like he’s paying ransom.

  20. yankeesgameday - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    When he agreed to just give it back jeter himself should have cut this guy a check for at least a hundred grand. As shaq once said that is just the fica tax on his weekly paycheck.

  21. shaggylocks - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    You know, before I read your post I was thinking I’d probably give the ball the Jeter too. I like to think I’m a classy guy, and I’d like to think that would be the classy move. But you swayed me. If Jeter wants it, Jeter can have it (for a price). You don’t catch a break like that every day.

  22. paperlions - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    I would have gone with option 4, offered to sell it to Jeter without having an auction. If he didn’t want to cough up $1M or so, then I’d auction it off. Everyone (including Jeter) negotiates to get maximum personal benefit….it is silly to suggest that a fan lucky enough to be in possession of such a unique piece of memorabilia not do the same.

    • FC - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      I’m not sure it would have gone $1 MM but you never know…

  23. stairwayto7 - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Mr. Jeter you can have this ball for $400,000 and keep your suite tickets! SHOW ME THE MONEY!

  24. yankeesgameday - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Will cc be inspired by Christian Lopez and decide not to opt out of his contract at the end of the season?

  25. afabulous48 - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    Man – what a bunch of money-grubbing sports “fans”….what a disgrace. Unbelievable.

    • CJ - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:24 PM

      …as opposed to the humble players who all surely would play for the love of the game even if there were no potential to make millions off of their (mostly) middle class fans. Yeah, ok.

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