The list of players who have generated this much attention before their 20th birthday is a short one. Bryce Harper has been on the tips of fans’ tongues for years. It’s strange territory. Ken Griffey Jr. knows how he feels. Not many others. Unless a giant meteor strikes the earth, Harper seems destined for greatness. It’s a lot to live up to but his first couple of weeks in the big leagues have done nothing to quell the interest. It’s been awhile since a young player with so much potential landed on SportsCenter each night. So what’s Bryce Harper’s first home run ball going to be worth?
It’s not a ‘milestone’ home run ball…yet. Extreme self-confidence aside, he hasn’t been around long enough to accomplish anything yet. There’s no shortage of collectors, dealers and others willing to take a chance that it will be considered that ten years from now, though. If Harper is a superstar, the value will run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
If it lands in the seats, rather than a bullpen or an unoccupied area, we could see a mad scramble among fans in the know. If Harper is lucky, the person who winds up with it will have the heart of Christian Lopez, who latched on to Derek Jeter’s 30o0th hit ball and gave it back. At least he did get a Topps card, some nice perks, his tax bill paid and an iPad.
No doubt, the Washington Nationals will do everything they can to get it back. Teams have been known to be cheap, especially with unknowing fans. Just ask the teenager from the Georgia church group who sat in the stands cradling Chipper Jones’ 450th last year and was given a signed ball and cap. A fan who catches it and keeps it will probably be seen as a villain by those who don’t understand the memorabilia market and want the nice young man to get his souvenir back.
It would be a windfall for the fan who takes it home (with security, hopefully). How much is hard to say.
To be sure, home run ball prices are all over the board. Mickey Mantle’s 500th sold for just $144,000 at auction the same year the Bonds ball was sold. A sample list of milestone home run ball selling prices is interesting but there’s no guide to what they’re worth. You can guess, but you may not always be right. Future developments can impact the value of the item, too. Just ask Todd McFarlane, who paid $3 million for Mark McGwire’s 70th a few years before the steroid scandal broke.
Ordinary home run balls are often kept, but there are a few of them on eBay. You can buy Hall of Famer Andre Dawson’s 312th for just $169.
My guess on Harper’s first home run ball would be $20-25,000 from a bidder who shares the extraordinary confidence of the guy who hit it.