I Wouldn’t Have Given Away The Jeter Ball, But That’s Just Me

The headline to this post couldn’t be more to the point.

I’ve spent the past few days listening to various sports-talk programs debate whether or not New York Yankees fan Christian Lopez should have given Derek Jeter the home run ball that he caught for career hit No. 3,000 in exchange for a few nice seats and some memorabilia.

Lopez has been applauded for doing what he did, even though he could have sold the ball for big bucks. I heard one expert speculate the ball is worth $200,000 or more.

It was quite a gesture. Lopez reportedly has $100,000 in student loans still to pay off. Plus, the government plans to make him pay taxes for it, although a brewing company stepped in and offered to cover the tax expenses.

To each his/her own. If giving that ball to Jeter is what Lopez thought was the right thing to do, then so be it. He made a decision on his own, and I give him credit for that.

But it’s not the decision I would have made.

I realize that statement seems motivated by greed. And I suppose to some extent, that’s true.

I would be left imagining what a difference that money could have made to the lives of myself and other friends and family. I’m not talking about going out and spending lavishly on things that I don’t need. I’m talking about buying and paying off the necessities – a house, a car, etc. – in a fairly unstable economy.

I heard one of the pundits on “Pardon The Interruption” give Lopez credit because getting that ball was like, “Winning the lottery without buying a lottery ticket.” Well, that’s not really true. He did buy his way into that game, knowing there was a chance – albeit slim – that a ball like that could find him.

Why give a gift of charity like that to a multi-millionaire athlete? It’s not like Jeter and the New York Yankees don’t have the money to pay for what the ball is worth. After all, Jeter just signed a three-year, $51 million deal in the offseason. A couple hundred thousand dollars is chump change for Jeter and the Steinbrenner family.

Charity should go to those who need it, not to those who are among the top earners in society. Even if he doesn’t want the money, give the $200K to those who actually need it. Go the Robin Hood route.

The best advice I would have given Lopez if I was seated next to him when he caught that ball wasn’t whether or not he should give it to Jeter. I would have told him to wait a week or two. Let things play out. I wonder if that would have yielded a different outcome.

3 Responses

  1. I think the debate has been framed too much in terms of “should.” He legally owned the ball. Therefore, he didn’t have any moral obligation to give it away. Now, giving it away because it meant something to Jeter might be a morally better thing to do than keeping it, but that doesn’t mean he was morally obligated to do so. We are not always morally required to do the most highly moral thing possible, though doing the most highly moral thing possible is good.

    There are certain things that are moral obligations (being faithful to one’s spouse, paying one’s debts, not killing innocent humans), giving away a baseball that one owns because another person would like to have it, is not one of those. But it is nice (given that the motive is pure).

  2. Joe

    Two things:
    1) The ticket was a gift, from his girlfriend, for his birthday.
    2) The move was an act of class from a fan that belongs to a fanbase that has no concept of the word, and it was directed towards a player that plays for an organization that also has no concept of the word.

    He did the right thing. Karma finds ways to re pay people for his good deeds. Any TRUE baseball fan would be elated with the “package” he was given for giving Mr. Jeter that ball.

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