The Ballhawking Hobby: Is It Fair to Sell Back a Milestone Ball?

Joe HuberCorrespondent IMay 15, 2009

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Chris Coghlan #81 of the Florida Marlins during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 22, 2008 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

I will start with the recent news that Chris Coghlan of the Florida Marlins might not be so happy he hit his first home run.

He has had a run in with a self-proclaimed ball hawker Nick Yohanek.

According to a story on ESPN.com, Yohanek caught the rookies first homer at a Marlins-Brewers game in Milwaukee and held the ball for "ransom."

I'm not going to really dwell on this story in particular, since I found it to be only slightly interesting, and I'm more interested in seeing how others felt about the act of catching a milestone ball.

So I pose the following question: What do you do after you catch that ball?

Barry Bonds slammed home run number 756 and it ended up in the hands of a man that wasn't even planning to be at the game. Marc Ecko bought it at auction for $752,467 and held a vote on whether to donate the ball intact to Cooperstown, send it to the Hall branded with an asterisk, or to launch it into space.

But what if the Matt Murphy, a Mets fan, had just handed the ball over to Bonds for a signed bat? Was that the "right" thing to do?

I personally loved what Ecko did with the ball. I voted to send it in with the branding on it.

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Bonds was not so hot on the idea.

Does it make a difference when the player is nice?

Let's say that someone as clean and courteous as Derek Jeter slammed number 763 into the Monsters seats, what would you do as a Red Sox fan.  

(I just want to make clear that I understand this won't happen. I also understand that you might hate him because he's a Yankee, but admit it, you want your kid to grow up to be just like him.)

His winning smile wouldn't be enough to get the ball back, but would the traditional signed bat do the trick?

I've given it some pretty deep thought, and I like to think I'd send a big time ball into the hall.  In exchange for some Red Sox tickets, of course.  But then I also thought, if it was worth $750,000?  I'd take the money.

Now hear this, a rookies first home run is not worth $1,000 let alone $750,000, but I think that trying to get the most you can out of a ball you caught is the American way.

To illustrate my point, I'll use the following ridiculous analogy:  Let's say KFC throws their recipe in the trash and Ronald McDonald picks it up.  He's not going to just hand it back over.  He's going to find out exactly how much that recipe is really worth.

It might be a shame, but our society is all about exposing other peoples vanity for their own financial gain.  If Britney Spears doesn't want the nip slip on TMZ, she could just buy the photos from the paparazzi herself.  It's just not that important to her.

Apparently the first home run ball hit by Coghlan was worth putting up with someone that was indignant enough to ask for a signed bat from Hanley Ramierez as well, having the initial offer rejected, and then granting his request for free tickets to an upcoming Brewers-Marlins series in Florida.

I'm not saying there is a right or wrong to the situation, but what would you do in that situation?  I'd get what I could.  Like I said, I'd love to tell you I'd send it first class to Cooperstown, but I'm not going to lie about it.

As for Coghlan, you might not want to hit one out when Yohanek comes to your park in July.  He might just ask for another signed bat.


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