Let Him Have It
Alex Rodriguez recorded his 3,000th major league hit tonight, a home run off of Justin Verlander. A famed ball-hawk named Zack Hample, who claims to have snagged/retrieved more than 8,000 MLB baseballs in 51 different stadia since 1990 and even wrote a book about it, will be keeping the baseball, probably so he can auction it off at some point in the future. One expert says it’s worth more than $50,000.
Good for him. If Hample has paid his way into 51 different major league parks, he deserves to keep every single baseball he wants. He’s put plenty of money into MLB’s pockets, and ARod (and MLB for that matter) has always been all about the money anyway.
It will be interesting to see if anyone will actually pay $50,000+ for this baseball. The intrinsic value of a used major league baseball is probably somewhere between $5 and $10 at most. ARod memorabilia comes with so much steroids baggage that it’s a little hard to imagine it selling for that price.
However, all it takes is two or three extremely wealthy Yankees’ fans who really, really want that baseball, and there are plenty of extremely wealthy Yankees’ fans. Also, this kind of memorabilia develops a life and value of its own. Once one person with more money than sense submits a large winning bid, then a value has been created, such that other people with a lot of money see it as an “investment” which will appreciate over time. It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, but then why have paintings by Gauguin and Cezanne sold for more than $250 million?
Some of it is simply scarcity: only 29 players have ever reached 3,000 hits, and you can be sure that not all 29 of the baseballs struck for those 29 3000th hits have been saved and made available for purchase. The same is true for the works of famous painters, or for that matter gold and diamonds, which have relatively few practical uses other than that they are shiny, pretty and are not easily damaged.
At any rate, a fan who is lucky enough to catch or retrieve an historically significant baseball should keep the damn thing and sell it to the highest bidder, unless to him or her a jersey and baseball bat signed by their favorite player with a personalized message is worth more.