Before that spectacular, sun-soaked Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium,
Christian Lopez was just regular guy. He graduated from St. Lawrence
University and works at Verizon selling phones at one of their retail stores.
Lopez is a die-hard Yankees fan and admires Derek Jeter.
At 2pm Eastern time, his life changed forever. He came up with the
ball that Jeter hit for number 3,000, a home run that made Jeter part
of a club that doesn't include Ruth, Gerhig, Mantle, DiMaggio, Berra,
or any other legendary Yankee.
When Lopez beat over more than 48,000 fans for the ball, it would've
been easy for him to say "cha-ching". Souvenir experts said the Derek
Jeter 3,000 hit ball would be worth around $250,000. That is big money,
especially for a 23-year old kid fresh out of college. Lopez could've had
the ball on eBay by the time Jeter collected his next hit, which came two
innings later. Lopez could've waited and fielded offers from the highest
bidder that would've made him pretty wealthy. But he didn't. Lopez
made sure that Jeter got the ball for free.
A lot of people in this country were saying, "you idiot!" How can you give
up that ball for nothing." After all, big-money grabs have become the American
way, haven't they? Reggie Bush took a king's ransom from a prospective agent
when he was still in college. Terrell Pryor put his signature on anything Ohio
State for more than $40,000. And how about juror number three in the Casey
Anthony trial. As soon as the foreman said, "not guilty", she sprinted from
the Juror's box to the salon for a make-over and was on "Good Morning
America" the next day. I think she asked for Gloria Allred's phone number
and hired a publicist, hoping to capitalize on someone else's misfortune. Is
this a great country or what? And how sick will it be when Casey Anthony
makes her first dollar off the death of her daughter.
But Lopez didn't have dollar signs in his eyes. He didn't want to get become
instantly wealthy just because he was fortunate to be in the right place at the
right time. He didn't hold the Yankees hostage for season-tickets, dinner with
Reggie Jackson, or ask to throw out the pitch. He just gave the ball to security
who passed it on to Jeter. Then it was like Charlie in the "Willy Wonka and the
Chocalate Factory." After giving back the gobstopper or whatever that piece
of candy was called, Willy gave Charlie the world. The Yankees rewarded
Lopez with prime tickets for the rest of the season and a few other goodies.
Lopez will get to enjoy some time in the limelight. There will be feature articles
in every metropolitan newspaper. He'll be on ESPN, "Good Morning America",
Letterman, Leno, and every talk show in between. But we'll all be happy for
him because he wasn't someone who wanted to get rich quick off a Ponzi
scheme or schemed his way to selling the ball to the highest bidder. Its good
to know there are some people who have been raised the right way and
are just as classy as the player who hit it, Derek Jeter.