In recent days, Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit home run ball has been the subject of much media attention. Recently estimated being valued at upwards of $250,000, the debate to keep or return the valuable relic has given talk shows hosts many hours of hypothetical discussion on what should have been done with the historic orb. Should the lucky fan, Christian Lopez, have cashed in and paid his college loans, or should he have returned the ball to one of the greatest Yankees of all time?
In what has become a nationally recognized act of selflessness, the actual ball was returned by Lopez to Jeter, no strings attached. The anticipation leading up to the hit, the manner the 3,000th hit was achieved (homerun), and the returning of the prize to Jeter were all best described as classy. Both Jeter and Christian Lopez epitomized what is magical about our National Pastime.
With the actual ball now safely residing in Derek Jeter’s personal collection, MEARS Auctions is very excited to announce we are offering one of the three other baseballs used in that historic at-bat in our July 22nd-30th, 2011 Auction. Baseballs used in historic games have come on the market, but to our knowledge, this is the first historic baseball of this caliber that can be documented from the actual at-bat. (Actually hit ball non-withstanding).
Of the three, only two were caught by fans, the third recaptured by the Yankees ball boy. It has been stated that this offered baseball is the most historically significant modern era New York Yankees baseball ever publicly offered. Ruth, Gehrig, Jackson, and DiMaggio all had fabled careers, but none tallied 3,000th hits while wearing pinstripes. The milestone is a testament to longevity and consistency, and this offered lot will allow one lucky collector the ability to own a part of Yankee’s history.
Our consignor was lucky enough to snag the second ball used in the 3,000th hit at-bat. Fully documented, the official Major League baseball contains the MLB Authentication J1 stamp, the covert 3 digit number, visible evidence of the pre-game mud application, and signed provenance from the fan that caught the ball in the stands, along with his ticket stub.
With a complete understanding of the significance and value of Jeter’s 3,000th hit, MLB diligently began the process of authenticating the baseballs that would be used to reach the 3,000th hit milestone.
Per an article on MLB.com, “it was written that behind the scenes of a high-profile Major League Baseball milestone chase, four dozen Rawlings baseballs have been rubbed up with mud by the Yankee’s clubhouse crew and handed over to the MLB Authentication staff. One will be historic.
They are marked sequentially with the numbers 1 through 48, in black under the MLB logo, and each also has a covert marking needed for final proof.
Balls numbered 1-24 are with the Yankees now in Cleveland. Nos. 36-48 were on display at the MLB man cave.
Once Derek Jeter reaches 2,999 hits, the marked ball will be deployed during his at-bats, one at a time, and each ball’s outcome is tracked by an authentication staffer. The home-plate umpire and a bat boy will have the process down pat for each game. Start with four or six balls-usually four, but depending on the ump-and then go through them meticulously until Jeter strokes his 3,000th hit. “
Jeter had no interest in waiting to obtain the 3,000th hit milestone. In his second at –bat, his homerun gave him the magic number, and it took only four baseballs to accomplish the feat. This means that of the 48 specially repaired, only four actually saw game use that day. One was recovered by the Yankees ball boy, one was hit and returned to Derek Jeter, and two other balls ended up in the stands.
Examination of the baseball reveals all of the characteristics which were authenticated by the MLB Authentication program. Starting with a regulation sized Rawlings, Official Major League Baseball with the Allan H Selig commissioners stamp, the ball has clearly been prepared by the Yankees Clubhouse crew with an even application of Burlington County Lena Blackborne rubbing mud. The ball has been evenly coated with a consistence application covering the entire surface of the baseball.
In the area directly below the Official Major League reverse sweet spot, near the MLB logo, the MLB Authentication stamp of “J1” has been added. The “J” appears above the logo, the “1” below. This makes this the first of 48 baseballs prepared for Jeter’s 3,000 hit quest. Only four of the specially marked baseballs were actually used.
The one swing ball mark is smack dab over the MLB logo on the side panel. Jeter used his Louisville Slugger model bat to get the 3,000th hit, the black lacquer paint has transferred from bat to ball during this fouled hit. The bat hit mark measures 1 2/2” x 3” and is placed on the side panel, crossing the stitched seam, and ends on the commissioner’s stamp.
With the use of a black light, MEARS Auctions was able to reveal the presence of the covert 3 digit number, found on the reverse sweet spot. A black light image has been provided on our website for your viewing.
Fresh in our consignor’s memory, a detailed LOA accompanies this lot. He captures the moment with the following prose, “For the New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays game of Saturday, July 9, 2011, my father and I were sitting in Yankee Stadium Main Section 214 B, Row 11. We were joined by a neighbor and a cousin, for whom we provided the tickets as gift. All together, we occupied Seats 1-4 of Row 11. Although I was in possession of the ticket for Seat 1 (the end seat), I offered that seat to my father so that he would have more room to maneuver his right arm, which was in a sling as a result of a recent shoulder surgery. My father retained the ticket to Seat 3 throughout the game and was in possession of that ticket when he acquired the foul ball.
During the at bat when Jeter recorded his 3,000th hit, four specially marked baseballs were used:
-The first was hit foul into the backstop and picked up by a Yankee’s ball boy.
-The second, the ball my father acquired, was hit foul above the first base line.
-The third was grounded foul down the third base line, picked up by the ball boy and handed to a young girl.
-The fourth was hit for a home run.
The foul ball my father acquired was hit sharply towards our section, and as it was sailing past us, my father was able to deflect the ball off of one his fingers by elevating his left arm (the one not in the sling). Immediately after hitting his hand, the ball fell to the ground and landed in the stairway to the right of where my father was sitting. He pounced on the ball, and, again using only his left arm and hand, was able to secure it from a crowd of other fans attempting to pick it up.”
Finally, our research was able to provide an on field image of the specially prepared and marked D1-12 baseballs. A complete dozen was photographed on the field, and an image accompanies this lot description.
The game used baseball from the unforgettable event has gained a place of prominence in the conscience of modern pop culture. In some instances, the baseball itself overshadows the player and event. With the actual hit ball safely in the collection of Derek Jeter, this lot presents the first public opportunity to own a game used baseball originating directly from the historic at-bat. The actual ticket from the fan that caught the ball also accompanies this lot.
LOA MEARS Auctions/Troy R. Kinunen & Consignor LOA, Seat Ticket also included.