I probably would have given it back.
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.