Tossing a ball or piece of game used gear into the stands used to be a pretty simple thing. The recipient was happy. The athlete was happy to make the recipient happy and the rest of the crowd gave the athlete high marks for fan friendliness. Oh, there would be a tussle sometimes, but it wasn’t over the potential dollar value of the item. It was just over the chance to have it.
We all remember Christian Lopez, the Yankee fan who caught the home run ball that Derek Jeter smacked for his 3,000th career hit and asked only for the ball to be given back to Jeter.
We also remember the fans who cashed in on Barry Bonds’ record-tying and record-setting home runs (what’s Barry up to these days, anyway?).
What happens sometimes depends upon who catches the souvenir.
The New York Times delves into a couple of recent instances from other sports.