Monday, July 11, 2011

The Jeter Ball: What would you do?

I'm working on a halfway point post on the Pirates right now, but in the meantime, I'm interested in everyone's take on the big national story from over the weekend, Jeter's 3,000th hit and the guy who returned it.

As you no doubt have heard, Jeter hit a homer for his 3,000th career hit and a 23-year-old fan caught it. Instead of keeping it to auction off for what some project would have been as much as $250,000, he returned the ball in exchange for some memorabilia and tickets, saying that he felt Jeter deserved it.

I know it's a cliche question at this point as it has been debated all over the radio and internet all weekend, but it's an interesting question nonetheless: what would you have done?

The easy answer is that it's too valuable to just give away. Not that I'd want to be greedy, but that's a lot of money for someone who has college payments, a mortgage, perhaps children who you need to send to college, etc. You may love Jeter, but he's made hundreds of millions of dollars over his career and dates Minka Kelly, so there's not much reason to feel that you need to do the right thing by him. If he wants it so much, he can bid the $250k on it himself.

On the other hand, I want to have it both ways. I'd love to be the guy being gushed over around the country as the sterling example of how greed doesn't drive every decision in this culture of ours. I'd easily pay a good chunk of money to receive that kind of admiration and adulation.

So, that being said, I think I'd try to work a behind-the-scenes deal. Ask to speak to Jeter and say, "Hey, I'm going to give you this ball back so we all look good, but remember that I've got kids to send to school. Take care of me." And also go to the Yankees and say, "A half season of season tickets is pretty nice, but I think a lifetime of tickets would be better." I'd be willing to take a pretty good discount in order to also be seen as some sort of latter day Mother Theresa, but not so willing that I'd forgo enough money to make the rest of my life easier.


  1. Pills said...

    I would sell the ball to the highest bidder whether that be Jeter, the baseball HOF, or a private individual. As an outsider, it is easy to say the ball should be in a museum, but if I had the chance I would use it as my lottery and make sure that I got as much for the ball as possible. I would not trade the ball for memorobilia becuase if I got lots of money I could buy all of the stuff I wanted anyway.

  2. If I was lucky enough to catch the ball, I would sell it for as much as I could get. The guy should not feel like he owes Jeter anything. Like Ben State said, Jeter has sex with the hottest girl on the planet and makes millions.

  3. Eventhough he makes millions, I am sure that ball marks significant milestone in his life. Jeter has achieved something that most people never will. If he is a normal human being he would want that ball. The right thing to do would be to give it back. If he is a decent guy, he would compensate you for it.

  4. Did you guy's see Pardon the Interruption today? They were talking about the guy like he is a latter day saint or a freakin' national hero. You can't buy PR like that. That's all I'm saying. I'm so selfish, I not only want the money, but for people to sing folk songs about me. If I could "give" the ball back publicly, while also striking a deal with Jeter to get college scholarships for my kids, tickets for life and some memorabilia, I'd probably take it. You could probably parlay that exposure into even greater benefits over the years.

  5. I heard some right vs. wrong discussion on the subject before, but I don't see how it would be wrong to keep it. Those are the rules of the game in baseball, it comes into the stands, you keep it. The rules don't change because it is a milestone ball. A person is only going to come across an opportunity like that once in their lifetime, and if that means you can metaphorically feed your family because of it, you just have to seize that opportunity. We also don't know if Jeter is even that sentimental to care that much about it. He already has the bat and uniform he used to hit it, and I'll bet the ball ends up on display by the Yankees or the Hall of Fame, rather than on Jeter's mantel or anything.

  6. I think I would give Jeter/the Yankees the right of first refusal -- whatever the highest offer I got on the open market, I would give Jeter the opportunity to match it. I could use the $250K a lot more than he could.

    Did you guys hear about the fan's potential tax liability? If you catch a milestone ball at a game, your are liable for the taxes on it. If you sell it, you pay based on the selling price. If you keep it, you pay based on its fair market value, which pretty much precludes 99.9% of all fans from keeping such a ball as personal memorabilia. In this case, although the fan gave the ball back to Yankees, they gave him box seats and memorabilia in return, which means he is liable for the taxes on the market value of those items, which the media is saying could be as much as $15K. Seems like the only reasonable option open to most fans would be to sell the ball.

  7. Pills said...

    @derKaiser: I saw an article regarding that the other day as well. That is totally ridiculous! How can tax code be written in a way that a mile stone ball is worth more than a non mile stone ball and is based on the luck that you catch it? I understand the lottery or game shows and tax codes because at least there you are intending to win something, but catching a baseball is farm from both of those cases.

    Having heard this I think the best thing to do after catching the ball would be to run out of the stadium and hide then sell the ball on the black market using an alias. Of course this would only work if the ticket could not be traced back to you.

  8. Lopez no longer has to worry about the taxes. According to ESPN, Miller High Life will cover his taxes. Miller High Life also released a quote on the matter, and it is one of the more humorous things I have read in a while:

    "Miller High Life believes you should be rewarded for doing the right thing, not penalized," ..... "We want to recognize Christian Lopez, and in turn everyone like him, for doing the common sense thing and help him continue to live the High Life."

    Keep living the High Life.

    Modell's sports store located in times square said that 5% of all Yankees merch sold will go to help Lopez pay the taxes and help him with his student loan debt.

  9. R Korn said....

    That is ridiculous, some corporations pay 0 in taxes while making billions of dollars in profit and this schmoe has to pay

  10. "Mr. Lopez, we are prepared to give you free Miller High Life for life and..."
    "I'll take it!!! Here's your ball."

  11. Pills said...

    Do not be too quick to give Miller too much credit. This will turn into another marketing scheme to buy Miller beer because they paid his taxes, not because it is a good beer. The list of reasons to drink Miller besides the actual taste of the beer continues to grow. There will probably be a commercial out by the end of the week.

  12. A lot of this just reinforces my original point. In addition to the PR and reputational value you gain by returning the ball for a discount, there is actual value to be gained as well. Major companies now want to be linked to this guy and are willing to pay for it so that they too are seen as "doing the right thing."