What would you have done?

By now, you’re well aware that Derek Jeter collected his 3,000th career hit on Saturday against the Rays. It was the second hit in Jeter’s 5-for-5 performance, a home run off of David Price launched in the third inning. The montages of Jeter’s milestone hits have no doubt been played on a loop throughout the day. After all, Jeter’s the first Yankee to join the club and just the 28th in Major League Baseball history.

Forget about the hatred of the Yankees for a moment. Forget about the laundry list of All-Stars and high-priced players who have starred in pinstripes throughout his tenure. The longevity is a thing of itself.

Anyway, that’s THE story. The story within the story is the one that captivates me on a whole other level. Christian Lopez, a 23-year old fan who had been given his ticket as a birthday gift from his girlfriend, corralled the ball and promptly returned it to “The Captain.” He gets suite tickets, bats, balls and got his picture taken with the seemingly disinterested Jeter (nice branding on the t-shirt, don’t you think?

(Photo from Getty Images)

I’m torn. The baseball guy in me appreciates what Lopez did. The fan in me appreciates what Lopez did. I can’t help but stand back and think of the major dollars that the ball would have brought on the memorabilia market. The high-priced feeding frenzy of home run balls from the late-90s and such has been long dormant but, let’s face it, this milestone has a whole other life to it.

It’s the Yankees. It’s Derek “Freakin’” Jeter and 3,000 hits. In terms of memorabilia, you’re not getting any better for a long, long while.

Ivan Rodriguez & Omar Vizquel are the next two guys in line in terms of the current pecking order (2,842 and 2,831, respectively), but teammate Alex Rodriguez (2,762) is the most likely to get there. Of course, it’ll take a little longer following Saturday’s revelation that Rodriguez may miss up to a month because of a knee injury.

I’d seen estimates that the ball would bring $250,000 on the open market. I believe that that estimate was low, and by a large margin. But that doesn’t matter.

Lopez returned the ball, so it doesn’t matter. It’s just that we’re talking about a life-changing amount of money for a recent graduate. Hell, it’s a life-changing amount of money for anyone. Student loans, mortgages, car payments, credit card debt (should I keep going?) gone. Forget about the charity angle.

We play the “would your rather?” and “what would you do?” games on so many meaningless, innocuous and downright silly things. This was a big one.