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.”