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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. winstonhussein - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    I would follow the example set by Jeter and the entire Yankees organization: GET THAT DAMN MONEY

    • marshmallowsnake - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:31 PM

      LOL! Especially because it was a HR.

  2. Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    I’d like to think that I would be magnanimous enough to just give it to him, but, as stated numerous times, the family, mortgage, car payments, other bills, 529 funds and everything else tend to loom larger than all that.

    Unless, of course, I could finagle season tickets to the Phightins (lifetime, 20 years, 10 years, etc.) out of the deal. (I doubt my wife would be okay with any agreement involving Minka. 😦 )

  3. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    You can’t begin this debate by assuming if he kept the ball he is doing anything wrong, he has every right to put the ball in his back pocket and walk out of that stadium and do what he wants with it, because its his property.

    Don’t be deceived, there was a “negotiation” for the ball with the people who got to him first. He took what they offered him and didn’t just hand it over without being convinced to do so. I’m sure the group that persuaded him included a few attractive women and very charming men in suites all with smiling faces and very friendly. Don’t be naive.

  4. wlschneider09 - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he could still make a bundle, just by selling the suite tickets for the playoffs and a few other key games. Reasonable to assume he could pull 100 grand?

    What do Yankee suite tickets go for on stubhub these days?

    • Lukehart80 - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:54 AM

      A lot less than face value, given that they’re available for almost every game.

    • wlschneider09 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:05 PM

      Yeah, but face value for Mr. Lopez is zero, so anything he could get is profit. And I’m pretty sure he could find a buyer come playoff and (god I hate saying this) world series time.

      Of course there’s probably some tax issues involved. Mr. Lopez has to pay taxes on the value of the tickets as if it’s income I assume? Still, if he sells the ball for a large lump sum, you know the IRS is taking a windfall cut. If he sells the tickets discreetly he might be able to avoid some of the tax hit.

      Maybe it’s just because I’m older and comfortable in life, but I would have given the ball back, tickets or not. I’m not the biggest Jeter fan, but I think guys who play the game right are few and far between. Regardless of what you think of the hype, Jeter has that, and thus deserves my grudging respect.

  5. stinkfist5 - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    He should’ve taken the money and joined Jenny Craig.

  6. IdahoMariner - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    when I first read about it, my immediate response was “well, that was nice of him to do that, since that is probably a really sentimental thing for Jeter (and having to buy it back would kind of taint some of the sentimentality)”…then I thought “plus, he couls auction off those suite tickets!”…..but now, I am firmly in the “damn, son, you couldn’t just ask Jetes to cut a check right there?”

  7. marinersnate - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    Oh, did Derek Jeter get his 3000th hit? I hadn’t heard….

  8. Andrew - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    I see that many people are saying they would have asked for money to pay off loans, payments, etc. but we don’t know what kind of boat Christian Lopez is in. Being 23, it probably is safe to assume that he had some college loans to pay off, but I don’t see why we can’t assume that he doesn’t have loans to pay off, or that he didn’t go to college.

    Sure, everyone has expenses, but it’s possible that Lopez’s aren’t extreme enough that he felt like he needed some extra money in his pocket. Plus, as fans we’ve seen what can happen when we act selflessly towards a baseball player. Return a milestone hit or home run, get memorabilia and sweet tickets like Lopez… or you can come off as selfish to the public by trying to get some money out of the ball.

    I can see some parallels between this and Gil Meche retiring. Some people praised him for being willing to walk away from $12 million, others thought he was an idiot for leaving money on the table that was going to be his just for showing up every day in the Royals clubhouse.

    If I was Lopez, I probably would have done the same thing (provided it was a Twins player’s milestone, not Jeter’s). Also, as I’ve said before a few times here, I work as an usher at Target Field, and my normal spot is in a place that Jim Thome could hit home runs.

    We’re already discouraged from keeping even batting practice baseballs, but if I somehow got my hands on a Thome home run (he’s trading autographed memorabilia for every home run he hits this season), even if it’s #600, I know I’m giving that ball to someone that’s more deserving of it than myself. First, because it’s what I should do as an employee. Second, because I know that by being selfless, I very well could get some memorabilia and a chance to meet Thome anyway, even if I wasn’t the one that returned the home run to him, plus it looks good in front of all the fans around me.

    Maybe it’s because I’m just a young and stupid 22-year old, but I think all of that would be worth more than the money.

  9. cleverbob - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    So the Yanks gave the guy (half) season tickets that they weren’t able to sell in the first place. The only autograph I would accept would be on a personal check from the highest bidder. May the biggest, richest fan win!

  10. memphisyinzer - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    My initial reaction was that he did the right thing. Jeter is a class guy and I thought that I too would have jumped at the chance to flat out give it to Derek to show appreciation for the type of guy he is.

    However, having read some of the comments above, I now think I would have to rethink my position and go for the approach of giving Derek the first opportunity to give me something of a monetary value so that he could have the ball. He does have millions and one or two hundred grand would be chump change to the man.

    Had it been A-Rod, it definitely would have gone to Ebay or something similar. I have no respect for him and, to me, it would have been purely a financial opportunity.

    Having said all of that, I still am very happy for the man. I’m not a Yankee fan but I do rhave a great respect Derek and Jorge. Derek never had any controversy about him (until this year with the contract and temporary performance problems). He just comes out everyday, works his butt off and produces. How can you not like and respect a man like that.

    Congratulations Derek.

  11. scottj27 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Am I the only one who thought the guy on the left was Bartolo Colon at first?

  12. foreverchipper10 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Auction it off to the highest bidder. Pays off my student loans and everything else. Without major bills to pay my paychecks would seem like a lot more.

  13. sicilianboy1 - Jul 11, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    If I were Derek Jeter, and had his resources…I’d have not a moment’s hesitation in giving the big-hearted guy $200,000 bucks (which is chump change for Derek) for the trouble and the chance of having a once-in-a-lifetime memento of my 3,000th hit. Come on, Derek…have your accountant send him the money and be an even bigger hero to your fans!

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