The Jeter Ball: Do “The Right Thing” Or Make $250K?

Originally Posted
2011-07-11

What Would You Do?

On Saturday afternoon, Yankee captain Derek Jeter added to his legacy when he hit a home run to become the 28th player and 1st Yankee ever to amass 3,000 hits in a Major League Career.  23 year old Highland Mills, NY native Christian Lopez was one of 48,103 packed into Yankee Stadium that day, and he was the one who came up with lucky number 3,000.  You’ve all heard by now that Lopez selflessly gave the ball to Jeter for a handshake and a picture; a ball that would be worth an estimated $250,000-$500,000 at auction.  The Yankees stepped up with a classy gesture and awarded the young fan four tickets in the Champions Suite for the rest of the season.  What would you have done?  What would I have done?

My knee jerk reaction before I even heard what Lopez did, was that I would return the ball to Jeter, its rightful owner.  I am a diehard Red Sox fan, but I have always respected the Yankee Captain.  I hope he strikes out every time he puts on his batting helmet, but I can appreciate one of the all time greats no matter what uniform he is wearing.  Had it been Derek Jeter or Dustin Pedroia, I can honestly say my answer would be no different…

However, I’ve had a lot more time to think about this great dilemma since Saturday.  On Sunday night, I was doing Sportsflashes for Butch Stearns’ show on WEEI after the Red Sox game and I listened to countless callers weigh in with their thoughts on the matter.  I’m 27 years old and I work three jobs to pay the bills.  I have college loans, car payments, rent, insurance…some day, I would like to buy a house, get married and have kids.  I just caught a winning lottery ticket…complicates things, doesn’t it?

I’ve been through several scenarios in my head.  I still believe that Jeter deserves the ball for all of his hard work throughout an amazing career, but could I simply hand a quarter of a million dollars to a multi millionaire and ask for nothing in return?  Sure, it’s not a quarter of a million dollars to him.  The sentimental value is something that you can’t put a price tag on.

On the other hand, I’m sure Jeter is happy to have the ball, but at the end of the day…at the end of the season…at the end of the next decade…is his life going to be any worse if that ball of cork wrapped in yarn and leather isn’t in his trophy case?  Or if Jeter, who has made $205 million dollars WITHOUT endorsements through this year (with years to go on a hefty salary) had to pay $250K for the ball, would his bank account look any different?

I could go back and forth for days with reasons to sell the ball and reasons to give it back.  I still haven’t found the answer the satisfies me morally and financially.  I admire Christian Lopez for doing what most people probably would call “the right thing”.  I suppose it’s easy to say, “I’d give it back,” when the money ball isn’t in the palm of your hands, but Lopez was confident enough in his ability to make a healthy living without the spherical winning lottery ticket and selfless or foolish enough to give the ball away.

Again, my answer, or should I say indecisiveness would be exactly the same if I caught a Red Sox player’s 3,000the hit instead of Jeter’s.  I don’t know what I would do with that, but I do know this…If Alex Rodriguez (2,762 career hits) sends number 3,000 into the bleachers at Fenway sometime in the spring of 2013 and I get my hands on it, that’s a ball I can feel good about selling to the highest bidder.

Stay tuned, the Co-ed hypothetical finals blog will be up on Friday, the day before the ACTUAL co-ed 2v2 tournament!

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