The Biggest Ball

Game 87: Flirting with 3,000
A-Rod has slight meniscus tear in right knee
I just wanted to use this.

Congratulations! You’ve just caught Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit! It was a home run into the left field stands and despite your slightly drunken coordination and hysteria, you got your hands around it. You fought off that ugly chick next to you and the nerdy-looking guy typing on his smuggled iPad (he muttered something about a war…) to keep it. It’s got a shiny hologram and looks slightly used and everything. There’s no question that, for a Yankees fan, there are fewer greater souvenirs. And given Jeter’s reputation, that ball is worth quite a bit of money.
You’ve got Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit. What do you do with it?

I guess you can break it down into two categories. You can either keep it, which I’ll get to in a bit, or give it back to the Yankees. Personally, I would give it back to the Yankees. It would be cool to have, but something like that – well, wouldn’t you want someone to give you back your 3000th hit? I’d be pretty annoyed if some jerk kept it in his bookcase. So, you’ve decided to give it back to the Yankees. What do you ask for? Are you as noble as Christian Lopez, the guy who actually caught the ball, and ask for nothing? Tickets? Signed memorabilia? Dinner with the captain himself? Tickets? Legends seats all year, or two or three years, would be pretty good. I don’t think asking for straight cash is a good idea. If you were looking for only money, you could probably get way more cash on eBay.

Maybe you don’t want to give it to the Yankees, or you have an entirely unreasonable demand. You demand that in order to give the ball back, the Yankees have to fire Girardi, release A.J. Burnett, and trade for Barry Zito. You refuse to give the ball to anyone else until you see Barry Zito out there on the mound in the Bronx in pinstripes. I’m pretty sure, at that point, they’ll just let you keep it. Do you keep the ball on your mantle forever? What do you do with it with you die? Donate it to Cooperstown? Your kid(s)? To Derek? Would it just mysteriously remain in your estate?

Do you sell it? Admittedly, I think if you sell Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit than you’re not the best fan you could be. An item like that baseball is worth more than money. That baseball is worth yours (or my) childhood. All those moments you that you watched TV under the covers and yelled at Brett Gardner for running like an idiot and threw your remote at the wall and put your foot through the TV – that’s what that baseball means. I suppose you could sell the ball (rumored to be worth approximately $140,000) and then use the money for tickets or a jersey or two or something, but I still think that’s a stretch. Do you sell it on eBay? Craigslist? Really?

Obviously, I don’t fall into most usual girl stereotypes, but I’m pretty sure this decision would basically tear me apart. And you have to make it during the game! While the game was going on! With Hal Steinbrenner on the phone near you! Maybe if you’ve been a Yankees fan for the past 50 years, this is a smaller moment and the baseball means less, but my first year of Yankee-dom was 1995, so Derek Jeter is pretty closely wound into my childhood. I think what would happen is that I would probably keep it for the game, but feel bad and call Yankee Stadium back and try to figure out what to get for it. Legends tickets and a whole bunch of memorabilia sounds cool.

Anyway. Go Derek Jeter. Yay.

Game 87: Flirting with 3,000
A-Rod has slight meniscus tear in right knee
  • Matt :: Sec110

    I told my buddy at work on Friday that I’d just ask for a suite for the rest of my life, haha.

    But yeah, gotta give it back.

  • Tripp

    Just learned in my Tax Law bar review class that a milestone baseball is subject to taxes because it’s considered a windfall for the person who catches it.

    • Marcus

      Do you mean regardless of whether you sell it or not? That’s harsh.

      • CP

        Well, if you just give it back, then you could list it as a capital loss equal and essentially owe no taxes.

    • Owen Two

      How do you determine the value of the windfall?

      • rb

        As an accountant, I don’t see this being taxable unless it’s sold or swapped for something of value – at which point there is something to tax. Perhaps in FL where there is a tax on intangible assets, but not on a federal level and not in NY.

  • mike c

    at home I was saying I’d run out of the stadium and get into the nearest cab. but if hal steinbrenner and the yankees were asking for it I’d probably give it back and ask for some tickets and to meet jeter… I’d also ask if his GF has any single friends, hook me up yo

  • Cosa

    I think it depends on your situation in life. Ideally I’d like to say I would give the ball back to the team but logically it would make the most sense to sell it.

    I know I’ve got a ton of student loans that I could use help paying, so in my case while I love the Yankees and Derek, the smartest thing for me would be to sell the ball and leave myself in a better position. I wouldnt ask for a gold jet ski or millions of dollars worth of Yankee merch and dinners, but I would explain to Derek and the Yankee reps that I planned on using the money to pay for my education.

    • nycsportzfan

      sold reasoning.. I come from a small family and it is hard for me to even pay to watch the yanks yr in and yr out on the TV, so i definetly would ask for money, and i don’t care what anyone thinks about it, either… The funny thing is, i would of asked for less then what Christian Lopez is getting from the yanks for asking for nothing(as far as dollar value).. I would ask for 10grand, tickets to another game, a autographed bat and ball, and the chance to meet jeter and a few of the other players( CC,Granderson and Posada)…

  • Phife Dawg

    If I caught the HR ball, I would really really want Derek to pay my college tuition.

    That is all.

    • yankeesdrummer

      same here. and thats what i wouldve told the yankees. i wouldve said “listen, im going to be a senior in college and ive got a lot of student loans. tickets and autographed memorabilia wont get me very far. i simply need help paying back my student loans.” at that point, i dont think one would get negative press. i wouldnt ask for cash but simply just for my student loans to go bye bye

  • Andrew 518

    I guess I wouldn’t want all that much in return, You’d already have the greatest story ever for the rest of your life. I’d certainly like to get to make a trip to the clubhouse, even the top secret parts of it. Then I’d push for the memorabilia:

    1). Team signed ball (at least all of those that would, I’d figure Derek might have some pull here,

    2). Signed bat

    3). Something game used from the game… the jersey or hat would be cool but even the batting gloves might win me over (assuming some of the more important stuff would be sent to Cooperstown.

  • Bryan L

    Hah, nice column. I enjoyed it.

    I’d want:

    1) A Game-Used Personalized Autographed bat which reads: “Bryan, thanks for catching my 3,000th hit! Sincerely, Derek Jeter (Signed)”

    2) Season Tickets for the 2012 season.

    3) The opportunity to hand deliver the ball to Derek, and take a photo with him, while holding the bat.

    • CC’s third leg

      and the honor of putting my name in your girlfriends bum

    • Aaron S.

      Great response Bryan. You’re thinking is right along where mine would be, especially the last part. I’d have no problem giving the ball back to Derek after catching that hit but I’d definitely ask to hand it to him in person.

  • Jaremy

    I’d probably ask for tickets for life and a signed ball from Jeter referencing the 3000th hit. See what they come back with.

    PS- amazing graphic.

  • Joe Boo

    I’d ask for tickets for 5 years and I’d force Derek Jeter to reenact the scene from “The Other Guys” in person. To hear DJ say you d–k in person would be priceless (the Yankees would have to supply me with the cop uniform and prop gun).

  • wow

    I’d immediately hire Scott Boras and let the rest take care of itself.

    • JMK

      Best response so far.

  • Simon B.

    I’d sell it without a doubt. If it’s worth 100k+, that’s a life changer, and I don’t think the symbolic value of the ball is nearly enough to offset that.

    Ideally, it would be nice to sell it to somebody who would donate it to the Yankees or the HoF, but whatever. As long as it wasn’t a red sox fan who just wanted it for some wicked purpose.

  • EnochRoot44

    What would Jeter do for you if you reached a memorable milestone at your job?

    The reality is, there’s too much money involved here. Get it to auction, but give Jeter and the Yankees first shot at offering something substantial.

    I know my “demand” would include an autograph from…..Rivera. Would that be in bad taste to ask for?

  • Brian S.


  • Phil C

    I want the plague in Cooperstown to read, “Derek Jeter’s 3,000 hit, caught by Phil C.” Then I could tell everyone I was enshrined in Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • Nathan

    According to ESPN, the guy who caught it gave the ball back to the Yankees and didn’t ask for anything in return. The Yankees gave him four legends tickets for tomorrow’s game and season tickets for the rest of the year (including post season).

    Pretty classy from both sides.

    • yankeesdrummer

      i disagree. both are pretty silly, on both sides.

      the guy who caught the ball was silly because in these times with the economy the way it is, to have financial security of maybe $75-100 thousand dollars in the bank? very very poor decision on his part.

      the yankees who offered him these things gave him champions suite seats for the season, not legends, champions which makes them come off looking cheap. you guys got a HUGE break by this guy not wanting money, so you give him the watered down version of the best seats in the house but you tease him with the best seats in the house to one game only and thats it!

  • SteveD

    First, yes I would give it back. But I would ask for monetary gain. I would not be a complete ass and ask for a kings ransom. I would explain that I am a pay check to pay check guy and would love for my house to be paid off. I read that it could be worth 140,000. That would more then cover it. Thank you and here is your ball.

  • MikeD

    Nice gesture on the part of the fan, but I’d have no issue if the young man sold it. Money is an important thing when starting out in life. It was his right to sell it.

  • dc1874

    What an idiot the guy is…..150,000 is CHUMP change to these players and the Yankees… Jeter makes that in about 15 minutes of work…

  • Hall and Nokes

    I would have at least taken it home and had a Jeter Ball Party before giving it up.

  • NapLajoieonSteroids

    I’d ask the Yankees to pay for my college education and an interview of Jeter after his career ends.

  • Ryan

    Not asking for money is just crazy. To say we’re not real fans because we would have asked for money is ludicrous. Derek Jeter has more money than he could ever spend in his entire lifetime. The Yankees throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars on a whim yearly. If this is something important to Jeter and the Yankees, they can make a significant bid on it. It would be my possession now and if I owned something that a multimillionaire and a multi-billion dollar corporation desperately wanted, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t hold off for full-value. I am a medical student who will be $300,000+ in debt by the time i finish school and $150,000 from the sale of the ball would make a world of difference in my life. I would let Jeter or the Yankees get first bid on the ball but if it wasn’t a legitimate offer, there’s no shame in turning to e-bay to get what you deserve. It’s like winning the lottery; the odds of being at the game for the 3,000 hit and being in the exact spot to catch it are so small, it would be foolish not to take advantage. It’s a life changer and if the yankees or Jeter would be so stubborn as to not offer full value for the ball, then it must not mean that much to them.

    • SteveD

      Well said.

  • coolerking

    Put it in perspective folks. Jeter makes $100,000 PER GAME, before endorsements.

    Jeter showed he can be prima donna this off-season with regard to the contract negotiations. There would have been nothing wrong with demanding some $$$ for the ball. Jeter could certainly afford it.

    • dc1874

      WELL SAID!! Reminds me of the line from the movie A Bronx Tale….”.Mickey Mantle???? Your upset because Mickey was crying because the Yankees lost??? Mickey Mantle doesnt care about you!!!!!..go ask Mickey to help out your father when he has to pay his bills and see what he says!!!”

      • SteveD

        Great movie and line.

  • Jake H

    I would ask for 4 season tickets the rest of the year in the championship area. I would also ask that I get half off season tickets for as long as I want. Jeter would meet me, take me out to dinner and I would get a signed game worn jersey. I would also ask for a game used bat by every regular and have them be signed.

  • Robbie W

    I’d probably just want to hand the ball over to Jeter personally. No need to get all greedy over a ball. It has no value to you, it’s his milestone and career, not your’s.
    But being 17, I could just be naive.

  • Este15

    Living in Europe, I’d have Jeter comp my self, and a person of my choosing, airline- and game tickets + hotel for one home game series a year. Until he decides to retire. The handing over the ball in person, I’d also do.

  • notasportsfan

    first, it’s all about the money, how much pressure must have been to have the players, steinbrenner, in your face, however politely, plus the fans (the love the game b.s.)

    Why do I say that; read an unrelated story about firefighter that died catching a ball thrown by a player; it has happened once before and the player acknowledged (or offered the information) that fans don’t realize what’s behind in the area. (CONCRETE)

    Well, if it happened once, and you knew there was a potential, why didn’t you fix it?

    So, back to this story; why not season tickets for life, how college tuition paid, how about lump sum of low 7 figures?

    Sound greedy, maybe, but 35 years later when you still have to buy tickets and working at a cell phone salesman, (hopefully he will have moved up in hi career or established a successful business), you might have considered this to be a business transaction (because, the YANKS did, make no mistake) and invested the money in a charity, business etc. And right now the economy and job market is dismal, officially ( but the people looking for jobs have know that for a while)

    The NFL NBA, baseball players make so much money, a million is pocket money, especially at Jeter’s level, even if the YANKS didn’t cough up some dough, he should.

    Who knows, maybe I am just too cynical, but at the end of day if I really loved the game, no way he was getting that ball back, period.

    BTW, although not a sports fan, from New York and love our teams, just hate all the spin.

  • toad

    No. You don’t have to make the decision right then. You can take the ball home and think about it. And once you do you’ll realize that being a nice guy is being a sucker. Jeter makes what, $17 million/yr? Let him or the Yankees cough up 1% of that if the damn ball is so important.

    You can trade it for some tickets, or a signed bat, or something else, but why should you? So the announcers will talk about what a prince you are?

    When Jeter was negotiating his contract he was totally unsentimental an djust tried to max it out. OK. Nothing wrong with that, particularly. But why shouldn’t Joe Fan do the same thing? No reason.

  • Rich

    Well it just happened–maybe after sunday’s game when Jeter has a few days off for the all star game he’ll come up with something($$$) nice for the guy.

  • bonestock94

    Call me an asshole, I’m selling it and enhancing my lifestyle substantially.