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Should a fan return a milestone baseball to a player? [Poll]

July 26, 2011 |  9:10 am

Question_640 Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss whether an average fan should return a milestone baseball to the player and give up on the chance for big money later. Check back throughout the day for more responses and weigh in by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.

Dom Amore, Hartford Courant

When Christian Lopez wrapped his meaty arms and defensive tackle's body around the home-run ball struck for Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, the ball and its historic significance became his ... and his alone.    

What that meant: It was for Lopez, and Lopez alone, to decide what to do. And what you or I would have done in his place means little.    

It boggles the mind that such a baseball would have six-figure value to anyone but the man who hit it, but the reality is, it does. Lopez could have held out for the highest bid and there would have been nothing wrong with it.

He chose to give it back and ask for nothing. The rewards he has been given are significant, and it's possible there is more coming his way that we don't know about.

For him, evidently, standing for something other than greed was its own reward.

There should be no rules on this. You catch the ball, you own it. The smile often seen on Christian Lopez's face indicates he is happy with the choice only he had the right to make.

Shannon J. Owens, Orlando Sentinel

I wouldn’t blame a fan for keeping a milestone baseball like Derek Jeter’s 3,000th career hit. It’s pretty much a game of "finders keepers" once that ball lands in the stands.

A fan isn’t required to return anything that flies into the stands, but it’s honorable to return a milestone baseball back to its original owner.

That milestone has a far deeper value on the person who accomplished the task than the recipient of another person’s labor of love.

Money has been the story of professional sports for much of this year, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that professional athletes, like some of us, are passionate about their jobs and dream of reaching certain career goals.

A lot of thoughts probably ran through Jeter’s mind after getting hit No. 3,000. I’d bet money wasn’t one of them. Fortunately, a very nice fan shared Jeter’s sentiment. 

[Updated at 2:34 p.m.:

Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times

In this economy, it is difficult to say that someone who could make a few thousand bucks -- or tens of thousands of bucks -- by selling a milestone baseball should simply give it up. Easy for me to say, right? I haven't caught one of those balls, and my kid isn't old enough for me to have college bills yet.

However, I would like to think that I would give the ball back. I would get something for my consideration -- maybe a picture with the player, an autographed baseball, a jersey or cap or some other gear, or some free tickets. I also would know that I did what I believed to be the right thing -- which is, as they say in the MasterCard commercial, priceless.]


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Photo: New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, right, shakes hands with Christian Lopez, the fan who caught the home-run ball that was Jeter's 3,000th career hit. Credit: Ray Stubblebine / Reuters