The trend continues. Another baseball fan gave up a potentially big payday to return a milestone home run ball to the player who hit it. Tom Sherrill, a member of the U.S. Air Force and an Angels fan, just happened to be at Nationals Park Tuesday night and just happened to be the guy who came up with Albert Pujols’ 500th home run ball. Sherrill turned it back over to Pujols after the game.
Pujols homered twice off pitcher Taylor Jordan, with the second coming in the fifth inning. He became the 26th player in Major League Baseball history to reach 500 career homers and the third youngest to do it, trailing only Jimmie Foxx and Alex Rodriguez.
The value of the ball is a little hard to determine but a six-figure price would not have been out of the question. The 500th home run ball hit by Rodriguez was sold by SCP Auctions for $103,579 in 2010.
Whether Sherrill was aware of the potential value of the ball wasn’t clear but told interviewers he knew the ball would mean more to Pujols than it would to him. Sherill met with Pujols after the game. A fan who came running down the aisle and appeared to have the ball in his sights couldn't hang onto it and Sherrill came up with the bobble.
— Eric Kay (@EKayAngels) April 23, 2014
Players who’ve reached major milestones have been lucky in recent years, getting their important memorabilia back from generous fans who opted not to cash in.
The 500th home run balls hit by Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez were also among those returned by fans who caught them. Derek Jeter's 3000th hit was also a home run and the fan who caught it returned it to him.
It’s quite a switch from the madness that ensued during Barry Bonds’ chase of the career home run record. Bonds’ 756th was snared by a Mets fan who sat in the bleachers in San Francisco in 2007. He consigned the ball to SCP Auctions where it sold the following year for $752,467. An asterisk was engraved into the ball after the buyer, fashion designer Marc Ecko, posed the question of its fate to fans. He eventually gave it to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I discussed milestone home run balls on air with ESPN's Mint Condition Wednesday morning, Here's the video: