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Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit: Would you give the ball back?

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The guy who caught A-Rod's 3,000th hit doesn't want to give it back. What would you do?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Rodriguez crushed a home run into right center field in Friday night's game for the 3,000th hit of his career. Of the 29 players with 3K hits, only two others--Wade Boggs and Derek Jeter--reached that milestone with a home run. The Yankees' captain was lucky enough to get the ball back, but it doesn't appear that things will work out the same way for A-Rod. From a fan perspective, people seem to be split 50/50 about what they would do if they had caught the ball. Would you give the ball back, or would you keep it?

Prior to the game, the man who caught the ball said that he would "give [Rodriguez] the finger and a dummy ball" in a tweet that has since been deleted. It may seem odd that was asked what he would hypothetically do if he caught A-Rod's 3,000th hit, but Zack Hample has supposedly caught over 8,000 baseballs at stadiums across the country during his lifetime. Some news sites reported that he was unwilling to hear the Yankees out about a possible deal, but he tweeted that he had met with Yankee executives, including president Randy Levine, and that he was still deciding what he would do. However, he's been quoted as saying that if he ever caught a ball worth life-changing money, that he would consider selling it.

In his postgame conference A-Rod said, "The thing I was thinking about is: 'Where's Jeet's guy, the guy that caught that ball? That's the guy I needed here." Hample referred to Jeter's 3,000th hit as well, saying that many questioned Christian Lopez's decision to give the ball that he caught back. In return, Lopez received three bats, three balls, and two jerseys signed by Jeter, along with four Champions Suite tickets for the remaining 31 games of the season and any postseason games. Considering the profit that Lopez could make by selling any of the autographed items, it was estimated that Lopez's gifts for Jeter's 3,000th home run ball were worth about $70,000. It was also estimated that Jeter's 3K ball might have sold for as much as $250,000.

Given the Biogenesis scandal, it's difficult to guess how much A-Rod's 3K ball might sell for at auction. After he passed Willie Mays on the career home run list, the Yankees refused to pay him the bonus money that should have kicked in at the time, claiming that the home run was no longer marketable. Before his steroid use was ever revealed, A-Rod's 500th career home run ball was sold at an auction for $105,000. After he hit 660, it was estimated that the ball might only sell for somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000. A-Rod is currently ranked fourth on the all time home run list, while he's part of a group of 29 players who have 3K hits, so his 3K ball might not bring in quite what Hample would want. Hample has said that he doesn't think that players like Rodriguez or Jeter need civilians to do them any favors, but that Rodriguez could feel free to place a bid if he does decide to sell it and that might be his best bet at this point. At least A-Rod doesn't sound like he'll be terribly disappointed if he doesn't get the ball back, saying "the memory lives forever."

It's hard to imagine being in Hample's shoes, but I think if it were me, I would have been happy to give back the ball in return for another signed ball, and a picture with A-Rod and Mark Teixeira. Would you give the ball back or do you think you would keep it? What kind of deal would you make in exchange for the ball?