I was going through news and articles this morning as I do, and I came across an article about the California Angels’ ballplayer Albert Pujols, who hit for his 2,000th career RBI last night. Apparently, for the feat, he hit a home run, which landed in the stands of Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers play. The ball was grabbed by a local fan, who decided to keep it, rather than give it to the player in exchange for swag, which is completely within his right to do. He explained that he might have given up the ball to Tigers’ security, or the reps from the Angels if they hadn’t been so rude and heavy-handed with him from the outset. (Naturally, the reps from both teams dispute this, but of course, they would)
The fan, (who just happens to be a lawyer) said that the Tiger’s security person began his negotiation by stating he the fan wouldn’t be able to re-sell the ball, because there’s no ‘chain of custody’ available, to authenticate that that ball was indeed the ball whereby Pujols hit for his 2,000th RBI. If it were me, I’d be a little peeved with that too, suggesting the only reason I was being stubborn about it was that I wanted money. The fact that the guy, later on, wasn’t interested in any of the other items that were offered to him (an autographed ball, a ‘meet and greet’ with Pujols, a signed jersey and even Tigers swag from another player [Mickey Cabrera]) definitely tells me that all he was interested in was the ball and the fact that he had never caught one at a ballgame. It didn’t matter -which- ball it was, even though this one is somewhat special. Honestly, for Pujols, it would only be another ball in his collection, gathering dust on a mantle or in a display case, until it was sold years later (or donated) after he either died or his family needed money. Since Major League Baseball gave him the bases from Comerica Park to commemorate the moment, he has in concert with them, the bat that he used, the jersey and whatever else he wishes to save, he could take any ball and say ‘Hey, that’s the one‘ and be done with it.
Even after he was informed that the fan didn’t want to part with the ball, he seemed ok with it. He didn’t want the stadium staff to push the issue, he seemed to understand that he’s there to participate in a sporting game for their benefit and if someone wants to keep a ball, they should be able to. Not to mention the fact he’s getting paid an exorbitant amount of money to play said game, so it’s good to know that he ‘gets it’, even though there is a multitude of people on social media arrayed against this particular fan. They seem to think he should give it up, but sure, they can make that call, since it’s not them. If it were they sitting on the ball, would they be so quick to give it up? Something like that changes when you’re the one sitting on the problem.
As for me, personally? I think it would depend on the situation. If like here, the stadium personnel were asses about it, I’d hold onto the ball until the furor died down. After a bit of time I was over the ‘newness’ of the ball, I’d have a lawyer or someone in authority reach out to the player in question and ask if he’d like to have the ball. To me, it’s a ball. It has a memory attached to it of where I was, who I was with and so on. To him, it’s a milestone of sorts. I can understand if he’d want to have it, for him, his family and friends and whoever else wants to see it. Would I hold out for swag and a meet and greet and whatever? Nah. I don’t need autographed items from ballplayers or famous people. I enjoy what they do, and pay for the privilege of seeing them in action, either on the screen, at the ballpark or wherever. They can keep the overpriced items.
But as for you, dear reader…what would you do? I’m curious to know.