Friday, July 22, 2011

15 Year-Old Refuses To Return Hideki Matsui's 500th Home Run Ball

Reversing a chapter from Christian Lopez's book on what to do after you catch a historic ball hit by a professional baseball player, a 15 year-old kid refused to hand over Hideki Matsui's 500th career home run ball back to the player.

Maybe this kid is still holding a grudge against the Japanese because the of the women's soccer team shocker over every teenage boy's fantasy pin-up Hope Solo and the American team in the World Cup.

More likely, he is holding out for some sort of huge payday.

Lopez was the young cell phone sales man who caught Derek Jeter's milestone, and long awaited, 3,000th hit.  After Lopez snagged the home run ball in the centerfield stands, he immediately handed it over to the New York Yankees organization.  In return he was rewarded with signed memorabilia, season suite tickets and a $15,000 IRS bill.  Experts claim the ball could have been worth up to $250,000.  Cynics called Lopez a sucker.

Matsui homered for the Oakland A's on Wednesday night against the Detroit Tigers, giving him 500 home runs between the majors and Japan's Central League.  The A's DH hit 332 homers in 10 seasons with the the Yomuri Giants and 168 in the majors playing for the Yankees, Angels and A's.  140 of those dingers came in pinstripes.

A's first base coach, Tye Waller tried to fetch Matsui's ball after it sailed into the Comerica Park stands, but it looked like he ended up in a public negotiation with the Detroit youngster and his father instead.

The ball probably has more sentimental value to Matsui than any real financial worth on the baseball collectibles market.  So dad shouldn't be planning on an early retirement.

The quiet Matsui downplayed his feat even more.

"I guess you can say I'm happy to get it out of the way," said Matsui through an interpreter.  "To add to that, winning the game just made it even better."

Matsui-debunkers claim the 500 home run total is tainted because most of the four-baggers happened while he was playing overseas.  The former World Series MVP always maintained winning a World Championship was always his proudest achievement.

"It's not like I was aiming for 500 or anything like that in my career," he said.  "Honestly speaking, the way I look at the record in Japan and the numbers here are completely different."

Matsui came to the New York Yankees in 2003, as a 29 year-old "rookie," and played his first seven seasons in the Bronx before playing with the Los Angeles Angels and A's.

Wednesday's home run was Matsui's seventh of the year.  He is batting .223 with 43 RBI's this season.

Tonight he is visiting Hell-- otherwise known as Yankee Stadium in 100 degree July heat-- and the home of some of his greatest major league accomplishments.

Asked if getting No. 500 would have been sweeter at Yankee Stadium Matsui replied," It doesn't matter to me.  I have so many great memories in New York.  I think it would have been asking too much to have it happen here."

One thing is for sure, with Christian Lopez in his Champions Suite seats, fan-favorite Matsui's chances of getting the home run ball back would have been better too.

1 comment:

  1. I wish that kid had caught Jeter's ball!!!

    -Doug T