By: Caleb Luketic
The Yankees designated hitter, Alex Rodriguez, crushed a solo shot in the first inning of Friday’s game against Justin Verlander and the Tigers, but it wasn’t an ordinary home run because this was Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit.
When Derek Jeter tallied his 3,000th hit in 2011, the fan who caught Jeter’s home runs was eager to give it back to the Hall of Fame shortstop, but Rodriguez wasn’t so lucky on Friday night.
The lucky fan who caught this solo shot into right field was Zach Hample. Hample has caught over 8,000 baseballs in 51 MLB stadiums since 1990. This guy is absolutely insane about this art of catching baseballs. In fact, so much so that he has written three books on the art of catching a baseball.
Usually when a milestone home run ball is hit, the fans are cooperative when returning the ball to the player who hit it in return for a chance to meet them and get some autographed merchandise. But Hample didn’t want any of that.
Hample told ESPN in an interview, “My intention all along, I’ve been imagining this scenario as a one-in-a-million, was not to give it back. You know, just because the guy who got [Derek] Jeter’s 3,000th hit, a lot of people called him an idiot. A lot of people said that he was a wonderful person and extremely generous. And I really think that, whatever you want to do with it is your choice.”
“I think that someone like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who has made half a billion dollars in his career, doesn’t really need a favor from a normal civilian and a fan like me. I don’t know right now if I’m going to sell it. I mean, depending on what the Yankees could offer, I would consider giving it back. I’m not giving it back for — I don’t plan to give it back for a chance to meet him and full autographed bats because I don’t collect bats, I collect baseballs. Just having this ball is so meaningful to me. I can’t believe that I got it.”
The Yankees even sent over front office personnel to try to negotiate for the ball, but nothing worked because Hample had his mind set on keeping the ball.
In a case like this, would you give that milestone ball back to the player who hit it?
This is something that we don’t know until we are in the heat of the moment, but for me, it would depend on the player. If it were a player I was a huge fan of, like Andrew McCutchen, I wouldn’t have hesitated at a chance to meet McCutchen and get a few autographs from him.
All that I know is that if I caught A-Rod’s home run ball, it would’ve taken a lot more than a few measly autographs to get it back.
FOR MORE by Caleb Luketic, follow him on Twitter @CalebOnSports