In the aftermath of Christian Lopez's catch of Derek Jeter's 3000th hit, the narrative changed drastically, moving from the altruism of Lopez for returning the historic ball to Jeter to Lopez being stuck with a tax burden from the Yankees' reward package of memorabilia and tickets.
A few companies, though, have stepped up to cover Lopez's tax costs, relieving the gracious fan from over $10,000 in taxes. Miller High Life has stepped up to offer to cover the full cost of the taxes. Additionally, Modell's Sporting Goods offered to donate 5 percent of sales for one week to go toward Lopez's taxes.
While these companies should be applauded for helping out Lopez and endorsing his very gracious gesture in not selling the ball, one must wonder where Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball were in coming to this fan's aid. Mindful that Lopez could have sold the ball for several hundred-thousand dollars, any of the three parties could have handled the taxes from the estimated $44,500 reward package given to Lopez.
That Lopez's problem was solved by corporations instead of baseball sets a bad precedent for when baseball has its next milestone moment. The next fan who catches a significant ball will be unlikely to return it to baseball and instead seek to auction the ball off to the highest bidder rather than be saddled with a tax burden from a prize of free tickets.
Remembering the image-damning controversies surrounding the ownership and sale of milestone balls of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds and the Red Sox 2004 World Series Final out ball, Major League Baseball should finance tax-free rewards for good-natured fans to protect the integrity of these historic souvenirs.