Alex Rodriguez became just the seventh player in major league history to hit 600 home runs Wednesday.
There were no injuries.
ARod connected in the first inning of the game against the Royals, ending a 46 at-bat homerless streak and putting himself into the exclusive group.
While Rodriguez has admitted to dabbling in performance enhancing drugs, such a milestone ball would likely have sold for well over $100,000. His 500th home run ball sold for $103, 579 in February of this year.
Instead, Frank Babilonia, a 23-year-old member of the Yankee Stadium grounds crew retrieved the baseball–one that had been tagged with MLB’s special hologram–and returned it. The ball, looking like one that had been hit and hit hard, will only cause a tax liability if ARod chooses to sell it someday.
There was no doubt Babilonia would return the ball to Rodriguez. Before the game, the head of security informed all of his employees that they would have to give the ball back if they were the first to locate it. Rodriguez did pose with Babilonia after the game and presented him with a signed bat.
“I feel very blessed, very lucky that Frankie was so generous,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez is expected to begin signing 600 home run memorabilia as part of a 2007 agreement he signed guaranteeing him $6 million in bonuses for reaching various career milestones.
It hasn’t taken long for ARod 600th home run autographed items to show up on eBay.