Did Yankees Fan Really Get Hosed in Deal for Jeter Homerun Ball?

A lot of people are saying that Christian Lopez, the guy who caught Derek Jeter‘s 3,000-hit homerun ball, got hosed by the Yankees when he gave it back in return for some signed memorabilia and Yankees tickets worth an estimated $70,000. According to a Bloomberg article, the ball’s estimated value could be as high as $250,000. So the knee-jerk reaction of a lot of headlines was to assume that Lopez left $180,000 on the table, even though last month, Bloomberg reported a much more conservative estimate of between $75,000 and $100,000 for Jeter’s 3,000-hit ball.

I’m not saying it couldn’t go for $250,000, but assuming it’s a given seems presumptive. Read what Rick Harrison, star of the cable show Pawn Stars, has to say about the likelihood of the ball fetching $250K at auction.

That’s perfect world, perfect buyer stuff. This wasn’t a unique ball in the sense that it established a big-league record. Getting 3,000 hits is a great accomplishment, but not unique like a 61-homer baseball was in 1961. Or even Mark McGwire’s 70th homer ball before he was tainted by steroids (sold for $3 million, now estimated at $150K). Jeter became the 28th man to do it. Craig Biggio is on the list. How much do you think his 3,000-hit ball would go for? You’d need multiple major Yankees fans at an auction with money to burn and the luxury market has dried up in this economy.

Considering Lopez and his girlfriend paid only $65 a piece for the seats to Saturday’s game, walking out with $70,000 worth of Yankees swag strikes me as doing just fine.

What do you think about Christian Lopez's decision to return the ball to the Yankees?

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  1. CM Williams says:

    A Yankees fan taking the high road by doing the right thing? He must be from Boston …

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 17
  2. Chris says:

    “Honorable?” We are talking about the Yankees, arguably one of the best examples of capitalism in sports.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 6
  3. TommyBoy says:

    I chose “He got fair value in the deal. And it was the honorable thing to do”, but that does not quite fit how I feel about it. SI.com had the option in their poll of “There’s no way I would’ve done that, but I respect his decision.”

    But I would not have handed it over for what the Yanks gave the guy (even given the amount of respect I have for Derek Jeter – and maybe even the opportunity to meet Minka Kelly). Sure, the value of the gifts may be $70k, but those tickets will not pay my mortgage, nor make my car payment. I don’t want to seem like a whore (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I would have held out for cash.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1
    • Jim says:

      He lives with his parents and has 100K in student loans (He was interviewed on the local NY news this morning). He definitely could have put 70K cash to better use than season tix.

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      • Brian says:

        He could sell some of the tickets on stubhub and make a decent haul…

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  4. Clancy says:

    But the “signed memorabilia” is subject to the same kind of value estimation. Is it the same as $70,000 in cash? We won’t know untill he turns around and sells the stuff. He was given a choice between two portfolios of assets of very uncertain value. Estimates of value are only estimates, and in a volatile and unpredictable market like sports memorabilia (esp. recent ones), they are not all that meaningful.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
    • TANSTAAFL says:

      Doesn’t trading one for the other create a taxable event? How will IRS determine the value that he received for what he gave up? His tax basis is zero, and whatever amount is arrived at for what he received, it is taxable as a short term ordinary gain. Right? So, a rough estimate is that he’ll be hit for something north of $13,000 right off the bat (excuse the pun). He should have gotten some written agreement that the Yankees would “gross up” the amount of cash he would need to cover his tax liabilities. . . no free lunch . . .

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      • TANSTAAFL says:

        Assuming he makes around $30k to $35k as a cell phone salesman, Christian Lopez will be taxed at least $18,000 to $20,000 on proceeds of $70k from the Yankees, and that’s just the federal income tax. His New York state and local taxes will be an additional $4,800 to $5k. Seems he got the bum’s rush . . .

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  5. Rick Germain says:

    Longtime Yankee fan here who watched the whole thing including the interviews. Lopez is going to reap some long term rewards that go *way* beyond any Yankees swag he may have scored. I’d be willing to bet Hank Steinbrenner has someone doing a background on the kid right now and if he passes muster, he won’t be selling cellphones for Verizon much longer. If he does stay in his current job, he managed to work the name of his employer into the conversation at least once and gave them some good free PR. He’s going to be moving up, one way or another.

    Classy move by Mr. Lopez and a long term win as well…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9
    • m3kw9 says:

      Thats a lot of dreaming you have there. Dreaming up value. Mr Hank seeing how he got hosed would not hire him as a price negotiator for sure.

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  6. kejacruz says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  7. Otter says:

    Does this guy have to pay income taxes on the $70,000 gift from the Yankees? If so, he got hosed

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  8. Peter says:

    He should have done exactly what Jeter did this offseason to the Yankees…hold out for the highest possible price.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0