Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Nonviolent Stick-Up - What Would You Ask For?

The home run ball is a souvenir unlike any other in sports. It's just so damn cool - a tightly wound sphere covered with stitched leather that was, for a brief moment in time, the focal point in a square-off between two of the world's most skilled throwers and hitters of the thing. Not to mention, if you snag one of those bad boys, it's practically free (we'll ignore the cost of your ticket). If even the run-of-the-mill home run ball is the shit, then you can easily imagine the hubbub over an historic or milestone home run ball. The guy who catches one of those ain't putting it in a plastic display case somewhere. No, that's because someone with a whole lot to offer - the player who hit it, the team, or the Hall of Fame - is going to make a pretty handsome barter with that lucky fan. Imagine catching one of those milestone home runs and having officials and representatives coming up to you, looking to make a deal. Pretty powerful feeling, huh? It's a nonviolent stick-up. You're Omar Little, but with a specially-numbered baseball instead of a shotgun.

I know, I know, I know, we're all sick of the A-Rod 600th home run stuff. I'm a Yankee fan and I'm sick of it (that being said, I wouldn't terribly mind if he hits it this Saturday against Boston, a game Kevin and I will be at). Rest assured that the matter of A-Rod's 600th homer is little more than a tangent to this post. One of our loyal blog readers (and one of my great friends in the world), a man who goes by the name of Tony, has a partial season ticket plan in the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. His seats give him a remote chance of catching a home run ball; it would have to be a real blast but he's down low enough in the bleachers that it's possible. One of the games on his plan was this past Monday night vs. Toronto, with Alex still sitting on 599. So, being a man who admittedly over-thinks everything (part of the reason we're such good friends), Tony had his Omar Little moment all figured out already, as he related to me in the following email on Tuesday morning:

As I was getting ready to go to the game last night, I started the usual getting way ahead of myself and planning what I'd ask for if Arod hit his 600 and i managed to get my hands on it.

Did we have this discussion before (after thinking about how i had to talk to you about it i vaguely remembered doing so)?

regardless i think this would be an interesting blog post for you if you were searching for ideas to put in the hopper

and just in case, my current slate of requests:

-4 tickets to the opening game of each round of the playoffs the yankees reach

-tickets to every home world series game
-authentic #36 jersey (maybe even request it be tailored to fit me like players jerseys are to an extent

-autographed ball by the entire team

-maybe 10 legends [Editor's Note: the absurdly priced, full-service seats behind the plate and dugouts] tickets to a game
-and my last definite was that my dad brother and i could play catch on the field (with the possibility of me pitching to and hitting off of my brother at that point)

OK, a few things. First, A-Rod is still at 599. Second, Tony's list of demands may rival Newman's list of demands when he had to go pick up daily calzones for George and Mr. Steinbrenner after George got himself banned from Paisano's (the only Youtube of the actual Newman scene was in another language, sorry). Third, he and I did discuss this topic before - last year we were at a game when Derek Jeter was in reach of the Yankees' career hit record and we were sitting in home run territory.

What I found interesting about this otherwise-mundane exchange was that none of Tony's would-be demands were huge in a monetary or logistical way. It would be really easy for the team to grant all of those requests, and it would cost them very little. I find it a far and refreshing cry from what usually happens with milestone home run balls. The 70th hit by Mark McGwire in 1998 was bought for $3 million by the guy who created the Spawn comics. A-Rod's 500th went to an auction house after the guy who caught it asked Rodriguez for a 6-figure sum. Fashion designer Mark Ecko dished out over $750k for #756 off the bat of Barry Bonds, and then went on to hold an online poll to decide what to do with it. That's better than the 71st home run Bonds hit in 2001, which ended up sparking a legal battle because two different men claimed to have caught it. Even in 1961, the man who caught Roger Maris's 61st sold it for a then-hefty $5,000, albeit only after Maris gave him the go-ahead.

Of course, the dwindling economy and steroid cloud will hurt the monetary value of any big home run that Rodriguez hits, but there's still a good sum to be made. I have to say if I was offered $100k for the ball by an auction house, I'd have a tough time saying no. But if that didn't happen, I'm a big fan of Tony's list because it gets the ball back to its rightful place and provides the lucky fan with a set of unforgettable experiences, some of which money may not even be able to buy.

So, to our readers, the floor is yours. What would you ask for if you caught a milestone homer?

1 comment:

  1. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704702304575403433657100888.html?KEYWORDS=Alex+Rodriguez
    First read that for laughs.

    I agree that the ball should go back to the rightful owner. I wouldn't outright ask for money as I believe Arod deserves just about all his salary. The ball is his. I could see him offering me autogragphed bats and me not caring at all. I would ask for the chance to get some hitting instruction and have Pettitte, Sabathia, Joba, and Mariano pitch to me. They would need to throw for real and I need to get some legit hits. Then I want a night on the town with Jeter and Arod where I would dicuss Michigan football with Jeter and then the two of them would get me the craziest ass ever. That's easily worth more than 10 G's to me.