Yankees fan returns Judge’s 60th HR ball, forgoes huge payday originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Aaron Judge hit a milestone 60th home run into the left-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
And then chaos ensued in the crowd.
A video posted on social media showed a dogpile that formed as several fans went after the valuable piece of New York Yankees memorabilia.
The one who emerged from the pile with the ball was Michael Kessler, a 20-year-old college baseball player at City College of New York. Kessler, who’s a pitcher and outfielder, detailed to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch how he came up with Judge’s 60th.
“[My three teammates and I] were standing on top of the bleachers and then went down for his at-bat,” Kessler said. “We were jumping up and down because I knew it was a home run. It hit the top of the bleachers and then bounced toward our section. I just went to grab it and bear hugged it.”
While Kessler was able to secure the historic home run ball, he didn’t hold onto it for long. That’s because the Yankees fan gave the ball back to Judge after New York’s thrilling 9-8 walk-off victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In return, Kessler and his three CCNY teammates who were at the game each received a signed ball from Judge, while Kessler got a signed bat as well. The four also took pictures with the Yankees star during a meet-and-greet in New York’s clubhouse.
What Kessler got in exchange for the ball doesn’t seem like all that much, especially when you consider how much money he could have sold it for. The Action Network’s Darren Rovell surveyed some folks within the sports memorabilia community about the potential worth of Judge’s 60th home run ball and they returned valuations that ranged from $50,000 to $500,000-plus.
Yes, Kessler could decide to sell the memorabilia he received from Judge, but why pass up on the massive payday that would have come with the home run ball?
“Judge means so much to the organization, especially this year. He’s just unbelievable. Just the way he is, he deserved to have the ball back,” Kessler said. “I have no second thoughts.”
“It really means a lot to me to give it back to him,” Kessler added.
Certainly a classy move from one ballplayer to another.
Judge is having an all-time great individual season. He’s just the sixth player in MLB history to hit at least 60 home runs in a season and the first to do so since Barry Bonds (73 homers) and Sammy Sosa (64) in 2001. With two more long balls, Judge will pass Roger Maris for the Yankees and American League single-season records.
The 30-year-old could also become the 11th player to win the Triple Crown since 1920, when RBI became an official stat. He entered play Wednesday leading the AL in homers, RBI (128) and batting average (.316).