Conor Jackson hit the first grand slam of his career last night as the A’s defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 9-1 in Oakland. After the game, reports say all it took for him to get the meaningful memento back was an autographed bat and ball for the local fan who retrieved it.
This comes a week after Christian Lopez, a 23-year-old Yankees fan, stumbled into 15 minutes of fame as New York’s Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, a home run, rolled to him beyond the outfield in Yankee Stadium.
Many expected Lopez to see the dollar signs of a capitalist, holding the Yankees and Jeter over the fire for a hefty ransom. Why not? It happened during the home run surge a few years ago with Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds and the fans who caught their respective moneyballs.
But Lopez, much like that fan last night, decided to see the stars of a young fan, appreciating the game, the athlete and the special experience.
From ESPN New York’s coverage of the event: “Mr. Jeter deserved it. I’m not gonna take it away from him,” Christian Lopez said. “Money’s cool and all, but I’m 23 years old, I’ve got a lot of time to make that. It was never about the money, it was about the milestone.”
Lopez did receive gifts from the Yankees, but that even brought out more angst from one sports writer who believes the team exploited the generosity of the fan.
As sports fans, maybe it is up to us to show the leagues, bickering over how best to split the millions of dollars they make because of the fans, what it is to be a good person who respects the game and its lifeblood, the fans.
I’ll never ask for his autograph or a picture with him, but I am a fan of Christian Lopez and the A’s fan that looked out for Jackson last night in Oakland.
Celebrate the game. Enjoy the community. Live the experience.