Fans who catch Aaron Judge home runs face a choice: Cash in or take one for the team – Yahoo Sports

Fans who catch Aaron Judge home runs face a choice: Cash in or take one for the team - Yahoo Sports

For the rest of the season, outfield seating to a New York Yankees a game is a lottery ticket.

If you were lucky enough to hit it, what would you do? It is a question that every fan with his goal to catch Aaron Judge a home run ball should think before taking his seat. Once that home run is hit, decisions will come fast and full of pressure.

judge hit the 60th home run of his historic season on tuesday The tally tied him for Babe Ruth’s career high and left him one short of fellow Yankee Roger Maris’ AL record. Judge’s next home run — assuming he hits it — will tie Maris and command a small fortune on the collector’s market. Like record-breaking number 62. Every home run Judge hits from there would likewise carry collector’s value with his final long ball of the season officially establishing the new mark – and eventually fetching the highest price.

The fans who secure these balls will face a few options: 1. Keep it. 2. Sell it. 3. Give it away. 4. Give it back to the Judge and the Yankees. 5. Negotiate with Judge and the Yankees.

Pressure at the moment will be intense and lean heavily toward picks No. 4 and 5 – especially for Yankee fans at Yankee Stadium. Security will likely be there to provide an escort – as it was for Michael Kessler, the fan who grabbed number 60 on Tuesday. At that moment, it is decisive time.

Kessler is a 20-year-old Yankees fan who was wearing a Yankees jersey on Tuesday. After meeting with security, he and his friends met with a judge after the game. They took pictures with Judge and all left with autographed baseballs. Kessler also took home an autographed bat.

But he didn’t leave with baseball No. 60. That’s what he gave Judge.

He explained his decision to reporters before meeting with the Yankees slugger.

“That’s history,” Kessler explained to reporters. “Any way I could give back to Judge, he gave so much to the organization – just do my part.”

For Kessler, it was obviously a great night – one he’ll talk about and certainly exceeded the expectations he had for his Tuesday. Meanwhile, the ball he returned is estimated by multiple industry experts to be worth six figures. Ken Goldin of Goldin auctions told Action Network’s Darren Rovell that he expected it to fetch $150,000 on the open market. Brahm Wachter of Sotheby’s valued it at $100,000. David Kohler of SCP Auctions placed a $50,000 to $70,000 value on the ball.

Is that a fair trade? Is it really a moral imperative for a fan in Kessler’s shoes to “just do my part?” The ball’s premium appraised value is life-changing money for many 20-year-olds. The low end estimate of $50,000 is nothing to sneeze at.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are no charity. They are worth $6 billion. Judge has $36 million-plus in career earnings and was in a position last offseason to reject a $213 million contract offer of the Yankees. He will command considerably more as a free agent after posting one of the best seasons in baseball history.

20 Sep 2022;  Bronx, New York, USA;  Fans watch as New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
20 Sep 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Fans watch as New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) bats against the Pirates of Pittsburgh during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees and Judge are in a good position to offer fair market value for Ball – if they so choose. But that’s not how these scenarios play out. Teams tend to offer packages that include memorabilia and season tickets when high stakes balls are involved. Tom Brady gave the fan who returned his 600th touchdown ball a bitcoin valued then at $63,000 — and now considerably less. He also acknowledged that the fan should have held the ball.

“Byron realized he lost all his leverage after he gave the ball away,” Brady said during a “Monday Night Football” broadcast. “He should have held it to get as much leverage as possible.”

This does not mean that the Yankees and Judge are obligated to offer fans fair market value. If they don’t want to, that’s fine. At the same time, fans aren’t obligated to just give them the ball in exchange for some autographed gear and a meet and greet. Under no other circumstances would an American who is legally and rightfully hit with a six-figure bonus salary be expected to just give it up. But that’s the dynamic that will play out in conversations among fans, on the airwaves and on social media surrounding Judge’s home run balls.

Meanwhile, the stakes going forward will only climb. The same industry experts who priced No. 60 estimated that Nos. 61 and 62 and Judge’s final home run of the season would command a range of $150,000 to $1 million-plus. If you’re lucky enough to catch one, it’s best to already have a plan.

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