It’s come to this. Catching a 32-year-old journeyman catcher’s first home run ball is now cause for negotiation. Vinny Rottino had to oblige the fan who snared his long-awaited first big league blastl last week with a signed ball and a signed bat before he could get it back. It seems like it’s become a bit of a trend.
For every Christian Lopez, who handed back Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, there’s a guy looking to latch onto a milestone baseball–any milestone ball that the player might want–and get something good back in return.
Not every fan acts like an agent at the ballpark, but the fact is that more people are sitting in home run territory who know a) that such balls are often wanted as a souvenir by the player who hit them and b) what the players are making. Few feel bad about asking for a little extra when the guy asking for the ball is making more money than they may see in a lifetime.
Sometimes the teams turn up their nose at fan demands that are seen as exorbitant. The Miami Marlins aren’t getting the first home run ball in their new park back anytime soon. They’ve also been known to go lowball, which isn’t right either.
Teams are well aware that game used stuff has value. Why else would you see foul balls for sale in the team shop at the ballpark?
The Wall Street Journal takes a look at baseball artifact capitalism in action.
Of course you could be living the charmed life of the guy below who was in the right place at the right time…twice.