Recently, Derk Jeter hit his 3,000th hit in the major leagues, an accomplishment only seen by a couple dozen players in the history of the game. I’m not a Yankees fan, but I applauded the accomplishment, as it is such a rarity that it shows the skill, determination, and many years of getting there which goes into the feat.
When a big accomplishment happens like a players 3,000th hit, the actual baseball that it takes place with is instantly a cherished piece of memorabilia. If Jeter had hit his ball in play, a player would have fielded it and he would have gotten the ball back right then and there.
But Jeter made things interesting by making his 3,000th hit a home run. As it happened, a lucky fan got to catch the ball.
That lucky fan, as you probably know, gave the ball back. Instantly, people wondered if this guy had lost his mind. Estimates showed that the ball could have fetched at least $250,000. Turns out that the guy has student loan debt of over $100,000. Meaning he could have used the money.
As it was, what did he get? Well so far, nothing for the ball…and a $14,000 tax bill. Huh? The Yankees were so pleased with his being a good sport that they gave him premier seats for the rest of the year including playoffs. Even though they’re ‘free’, the Yankees still have to report the value of what they gave him to the IRS, so he’ll be on the hook for income taxes.
Anybody still think giving the ball back was a good idea?
What would you have done?
In my case, I would have given the ball back to Jeter…at a price. He makes a lot of money. He actually got a contract over the past off-season that was way overvalued, where pretty much everybody agrees that he’s getting paid for what he used to do, not for what he does today (his skills are in obvious decline). Jeter could have afforded to pay the guy at least the amount necessary to get out of debt, pay the tax bill on that, and maybe have a bit leftover to buy next years season tickets, and it would have been chicken scratch to him.
Personally, I think that Jeter should cut him a check anyways.
Before you call me greedy, consider this: The guy caught the ball at Yankee Stadium, home of the most expensive…anything…in major leagues. The most expensive tickets. The most expensive food. The most expensive souvenirs. They charge that because they can. So if he were to, in turn, charge them because he could, how is there anything wrong with that?
Before you point out that he was just in the right place at the right time and made a lucky catch, I say, so what? Luck befalls people every day that allows them to get some money in their pocket. Winning the lottery. Lucky. Pulling the handle and having the slot machine give you a bunch of money. Lucky. Catching Derk Jeter’s 3,000th ball. Lucky.
I applaud the guy as a baseball purist who wanted to make sure that the ball didn’t end up on eBay or something similar. But, in my opinion, he blew it by not getting something back for it.
What do you think? Would you have handed the ball back without wanting something in return or would you have gone for the jugular (just like the Yankees do with their ‘stadium experience’)?