There’s no way i’m not doing a post about Jeter’s 3000th hit.
Regardless about how you feel about the Yankees, if you’re a fan of baseball Saturday was about as exciting as it gets when it comes to personal achievement in sports. In typical grand fashion, Derek Jeter took a 3-2 pitch into the left field stands for his 3000th hit, and went 5-5 on the day, including a game tying RBI, and the game winning RBI. In an already storied 17 year career that includes 5 world series rings, this past saturday stands out as one of Jeter’s personal best. For a guy who is known for putting the team’s priorities over his own personal highlights, it was nice to be able to celebrate Derek Jeter for the day. And It was a grand day indeed. You can watch the footage of the actual hit here, and read a couple articles by much better writer’s here and here.
The game unfolded in a manner that Hollywood couldn’t even imagine, and the day was filled with all the pomp and circumstance that MLB could muster. And with all of the excitement around Derek Jeter and his awesome accomplishment, another story was unfolding about a 23 year old cell phone salesman from New York.
Christian Lopez is the young man who caught Jeter’s 3000th hit in the from row of the left field bleachers. The video of the catch is amazing. Lopez ends up with the ball and is subsequently tackled by his father and some friends (who later claimed they were keeping him safe from the crowd), before being whisked away by security and Yankees PR. When asked what he wanted for the ball, Lopez replied, “Nothing”. The owner of the Yankees was evidently stunned by this response, and made sure that the PR team was very clear on Mr. Lopez’ response. He wanted nothing.
In the interviews that followed, Lopez stated over and over that he didn’t want any money for the ball, and the thought of asking for money never crossed his mind. “Mr Jeter deserves this ball, he’s worked very hard for it” was his go-to response. He went on to talk about what it means to be a Yankee fan, and how much Jeter has meant to the team over the years.
Christian Lopez never really set out to be a big deal. He’s a 23 year old baseball fan who got a few tickets to the game from his girlfriend as a birthday present. As fortune would have it, it may be the greatest birthday present a Yankee fan ever received. Nonetheless, Lopez has gained the respect of so many sports fans for doing something so simple and meaningful, that we are almost forced to make a big deal out of it. Early estimates have the Jeter baseball worth at least $250,000. That’s a lot of money to wave in front of anyone, much less a 23 year old salesmen. Lopez response to the money he’s missing out by giving up the ball freely was, “I’m young. I’ll have plenty of time to make money.”
Here’s the thing, Lopez knows that some things simply can’t be bought with money. His simple act has earned him the respect from fans worldwide. There are some critics out there who look at what can be bought for 250k and call this man a fool. I look at this man and see someone who is wise beyond his years. He declined money and instantly became part of the long legacy of one of the most storied franchises in US history. He may not have the on-field stats that guys like Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio and Jeter have, but he does have his name permanently etched alongside theirs in Yankee lore.
There have been a few times in my life where I have been criticized for my decisions. More than once, I’ve turned down steady paychecks, raises, and chances or significant financial gain because it simply was not the right thing to do. I’ve received a lot of support for these decisions, mainly because my friends and family typically understand the principles involved. But there are always those who do not understand the bigger picture, and the simple truth:
There is no dollar amount that can compete with a peaceful soul.
I salute Mr. Lopez for his decision to decline any money for the Jeter ball. Even if he had walked away from Yankee Stadium Saturday empty handed, he would know that he did the right thing. As it turns out, when the Yankees heard of his decision, they turned around and gave him a few autographed balls, bats, jerseys, along with four box suite tickets to every game for the rest of the season, including the playoffs and the world series. He also got to meet Derek Jeter, Steinbrenner, Jay -Z (that one is kind of funny) and a bunch of other Yankees. Sometimes, the offer we decline is not nearly as valuable as the offer that is presented.
To Derek Jeter, I say congratulations. Congrats, and thank you for providing baseball fans (especially Yankee fans) with years of dedication and hard work on the field. Your 3000th hit was one of the greatest moments in baseball I’ve seen. And to Mr Lopez, thank you for reminding me and the rest of the world that there are some things that are more important than money, and reinforcing my dad’s old phrase, ‘doing the right thing is always the right thing to do’. May you both enjoy your time in the spotlight.
One love, one heart.