Giving Yankees Jeter His 3000th Hit Ball Back: Smart or Dumb?

| by Alex Groberman

Depending on who you talk to Monday morning, Christian Lopez is either one of the most refreshingly decent people in New York or, one of the most naively dumb men to ever walk the earth.

On the surface, catching a baseball that Derek Jeter hit for the 3000th hit of his career is a dream for any lifelong New York Yankees fan – which Lopez is. The mere knowledge that you are officially a part of baseball lore and that millions of others wish that they could have experienced what you experienced -- even if it was for a brief amount of time -- is no doubt extremely thrilling and joyous. And then, when you top it all  off by making the ultimate good guy move and give the ball back to your favorite team’s most highly regarded player with no mess and no fuss, you’re in fandom heaven. In theory.

In reality, however, you inevitably become -- as Lopez has -- the talking point of the sports world on an admittedly slow reporting day. Some argue that the 23-year-old cellphone salesman from Middletown, New York made the gracious gesture to top gracious gestures when he gave Jeter his 3000th hit baseball back with no requests of his own. Others, on the flip side, others point out that the young fan who reportedly owes a ton in student loans could have utilized the historic artifact that is allegedly worth upwards of $100,000 in a more effective manner.

Now, for what it’s worth, despite the fact that Lopez didn’t ask for anything, the Yankees rewarded his kindness anyway. For his troubles he earned four box seats to every home game for the rest of the year, as well as an assortment of balls, jerseys and bats signed by Jeter. Nevertheless, none of those things equate to a piece of history.

Which begs the question: did Lopez make the right decision foregoing the opportunity to sell Jeter’s ball for a pretty penny or, was handing the ball back to Jeter for less than market value the ultimate foolish decision by a fan who will come to regret his decision?