For the rest of the season, the outside seat for a New York Yankees game is a lottery ticket.
If you were lucky enough to hit her, what would you do? It’s a question every fan looking to tear up an Aaron Judge ball at home should consider before taking their seat. Once this is achieved, decisions will come quickly and full of pressure.
The judge made the 60th home run in his historic season on Tuesday. His tally tied Babe Ruth’s career high and left him a short distance from fellow Yankee Roger Maris’ record. The Judge’s next ball run on his turf – assuming he hits it – will hook Maris and earn a small fortune in the collectibles market. As with the record 62. Each of the judge’s home runs will similarly carry the collector’s value with the final long ball of the season officially marking the new mark – and possibly getting the highest price.
Fans who secure these balls will face a number of options: 1. Keep them. 2. Sell it. 3. Give it up. 4. Return it to the judge and the Yankees. 5. Negotiate with Judge and Yankees.
The pressure right now is going to be intense and leaning heavily toward Options 4 and 5 – especially for Yankees fans at Yankee Stadium. Security will probably be there to provide guard – as was the case for Michael Kessler, the fan who finished 60th on Tuesday. At this point, it’s time for a decision.
Kessler is a 20-year-old Yankees fan who wore a Yankees jersey on Tuesday. After meeting security, he and his friends met with the judge after the match. They posed for pictures with Judge and they all left with autographed baseballs. Kessler also took home a signed bat.
But he didn’t leave with baseball number 60. He gave it to the judge.
He explained his decision to reporters before meeting with the Yankees player.
“This is history,” Kessler explained to reporters. “In any way I can give back to the judge, he has given so much to the organization – just do my part.”
For Kessler, it’s clearly been a great night – he’ll tell stories about it and definitely exceed the expectations he had for Tuesday. Meanwhile, many industry experts estimate that the ball he returned is worth six figures. Ken Golden of Goldin Auctions told Darren Rovell of Action Network that he expects it to fetch $150,000 on the open market. Brahm Wachter of Sotheby’s estimated its value at $100,000. David Kohler of SCP Auctions put $50-70K on the ball.
Is this a fair trade? Is there really a moral duty for a fan in Kessler’s shoes to “just do my part?” The highly appreciative value of the ball is money that has changed the lives of many 20-year-olds. The low estimate of $50,000 is not something to sneeze at.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are not a charitable organization. It is worth $6 billion. Judge has more than $36 million in career earnings and was in an off-season position to turn down a $213 million contract offer from the Yankees. He’ll get more work as a free agent after posting one of the best seasons in baseball history.
The Yankees and Judgment are well positioned to offer a fair market value for the ball – if they so choose. But that’s not how these scenarios work. Teams tend to offer packages that include memorabilia and season tickets when sharing high stakes balls. Tom Brady gave the fan who returned the landing ball his 600th worth of $63,000 worth of bitcoin – and now a lot less. He also admitted that the fan should have stuck to the ball.
“Byron realized he had lost all of his influence as soon as he gave the ball away,” Brady said during the Monday Night Football broadcast. “He had to stick with it to get as much leverage as possible.”
This does not mean that the Yankees and Judge are obligated to provide fair market value to the masses. If they don’t want to, that’s fine. At the same time, fans are not required to give them the ball only in exchange for some signed equipment and a meet-and-greet. In no other circumstance does an American legally and rightly stumble upon a six-figure day wages and expect to give up. But this is the dynamic that will be seen in the conversations among fans, on the airwaves and on social media about the balls that Judge runs at home.
Meanwhile, the risks going forward will only rise. The same industry experts who put a price on the 60 estimated that the 61st, 62nd and Judge’s last home run ball of the season would fetch the $150,000 to $1 million-plus range. If you’re lucky enough to get one, it’s best to have a plan already.
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