The 12-year-old Florida girl who nabbed a record-setting home run ball by Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, and then was hustled out of her prize by team officials has finally got her ball back.
Howard’s home run was significant. It was his 200th, and he reached the milestone in the fewest games in major league history. The ball’s probably not worth much now, but if Howard goes on to a record breaking Hall-of-Fame career the ball could be worth a fortune. But that’s beside the point. The Phillies handled this horribly.
Jennifer Valdivia’s mother was livid after she learned a Phillies team rep took her daughter aside without an adult guardian, plied her with candy, and got her to exchange the historic ball for a replacement.
Fans used to be the ones saving balls, uniforms, equipment, programs, and other memories. Now players are their own biggest fans.
Why didn’t Howard just round the bases after his home run, climb the outfield wall, chase down the girl, snatch the ball from her hand, and slap her around a bit? I guess it’s more civil for a team official to swindle the kid behind closed doors.
I love it when football players toss balls into the crowd after a big touchdown, or when baseball players lob game-winning balls to kids in the cheap seats.
Today’s athletes cling to their significant balls (now that sounded weird).
It’s common for fans to return home run balls in exchange for autographed items. But when fans don’t want to make a trade, that’s their right. A Seattle fan who didn’t want to return a recent Jose Lopez home run ball was hassled by security and then criticized during the telecast by a game broadcaster. There have been other incidents where players got snippy after fans refused to make exchanges.
Bottom line, Jennifer Valdivia deserved to get her ball back, and the Phillies were right to return it – even if they waited two months and only after the girl’s mother filed a lawsuit.
Hmmm…makes one wonder whether the ball returned to the girl is the one that was actually hit.