If an historic foul ball hit by Derek Jeter is worth thousands, how much will a souvenir from a roll in the sack with the Yankee captain bring?
Those are the questions of the week in the memorabilia world.
The fan who caught Derek Jeter’s 3,000th-hit home run ball last July elected not to cash in on an artifact estimated to be worth as much as $250,000. Yankees fan Christian Lopez gave the ball gave the ball to Jeter in return for some souvenirs and tickets.
How much is a ball that Jeter sliced foul into the seats on the first-base side during the historic at-bat worth? The son of the fan who caught it is auctioning it off at Lelands.com.
Anyone interested in grabbing that piece of history must register by 8 p.m. Wednesday and submit a big by 9 p.m. Friday. The top bid early Wednesday afternoon was $10,000.
The outcome of the auction should be instructive to recent recipients of some other Jeter memorabilia. In the best Hot Stove League story of the winter, the Ney York Post reported this week that since splitting last summer with longtime girlfriend Minka Kelly, Jeter has been “bedding a bevy of beauties in his Trump World Tower bachelor pad — and then coldly sending them home alone with gift baskets of autographed memorabilia.”
According to the Post, the baskets contain a baseball signed by Jeter. How long before one of those shows up for auction online?
Nothing sexy about the ball being offered on Lelands.com, but it has the historical significance that gets memorabilia geeks excited.
It bears the “J1” marking that Major League Baseball stamped on balls for Jeter’s potential 3,000th hit. In the close-up photo on the auction site, J1 is shrouded by a black smudge where Jeter’s bat made contact.
Jeter fouled off two other pitches during the at-bat, but the others were recovered by ball boys. Steven P. Picciano, 60, of Nutley, N.J., caught the one that reached the seats. The winner of the auction will receive a letter of authenticity signed by Picciano along with his ticket from the game.
Meanwhile, Topps will be featuring Lopez, the 23-year-old New York native who caught the home run ball, on an autographed trading card. As part of the deal, Lopez will be an honorary Topps employee for a day and be given the responsibility of choosing the image of Jeter’s 2012 Topps Series 1 card which will be available in February.
Lopez reportedly had $150,000 in outstanding student loans, but said he never considered profiting from the souvenir.
“Christian Lopez is the perfect role model and embodies everything that is right in baseball,” Mark Sapir, Topps VP, said. “Topps is proud to be able to help support this young man and place his rookie card right next to all of today’s legends.”
While here were many who chided Lopez as a fool, there were plenty who admired his decision. Steiner Sports and Modell’s pledged as much as $25,000 apiece toward Lopez’s student loans, and Miller High Life offered to cover his tax bill for the items he received from Jeter.
Lopez discusses his 15 minutes of fame below.