Zack Hample, who caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit, plans to keep baseball for now

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Alex Rodriguez hit a home run for his 3,000th hit last night and the ball ended up in the hands of Zack Hample, a Yankees season ticket holder who is well known for snagging home run balls. He claims to have caught 8,161 baseballs at stadiums around the country and has even written books about it.

That Hample caught the historic homer was interesting, especially in light of what he tweeted (it has since been deleted) on Thursday night in response to a question about what he would do if he caught it:

@Yankeefan98 I’ll give him the finger and a dummy ball. That man deserves favors from no one, least of all a fan.

According to Tim Rohan of the New York Times, this was Hample’s reaction before the Yankees whisked him away in an attempt to get the ball back:

“I really think that whatever you want to do with it is your choice,” Hample said, moments afterward. “I think that somebody like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who’s made half a billion dollars in their career, doesn’t really need a favor from, you know, a normal civilian and a fan like me. I don’t know right now if I’m going to sell it. Depending on what the Yankees could offer, I’d consider giving it back.”

The negotiations, which included Yankees president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost, didn’t get anywhere last night. Here’s a tweet from Hample during the game:

Hample appears to be softening on that stance, as he later told the Associated Press that he’s “thinking about” giving the ball back because the Yankees were “so nice.” He said the same thing on his Twitter account this morning.

David Kohler of SCP Auctions told ESPN that the ball is worth more than $50,000. Regardless of how you feel about Hample or his supposed approach to catching baseballs, that’s a lot of money to potentially turn down. It’s his right to keep it or sell it.

When Derek Jeter homered for his 3000th hit in 2011, Christian Lopez was quick to return the ball in exchange for some premium seats and memorabilia. It’s not coming as easily this time around:

“Where’s Jeet’s guy? That’s the guy I needed,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t so lucky.”

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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