Yankee Fan Who Returned Jeter’s Milestone Ball Gets His Own Baseball Card

Christian Lopez, the New York Yankees’ fan who returned the home-run ball that gave Derek Jeter his 3,000th hit, will soon have a familiar face in his baseball card collection -- his own.

Lopez, 23, will have his photograph on a card issued by Topps Co., the official trading-card partner of Major League Baseball, company spokesman Matt Altman said in a telephone interview.

“He’s a big card collector,” Altman said last night. “That’s why we wanted to do it with Christian. It was a big day and he should have his own card.”

Topps isn’t compensating Lopez for the project.

Lopez caught Jeter’s home-run ball at Yankee Stadium on July 9. He returned the ball to the shortstop rather than cashing in on the memorabilia, estimated to bring as much as $250,000 by Doug Allen, president of Chicago-based Legendary Auctions.

“Topps is proud to be able to help support this young man and place his rookie card right next to all of today’s legends,” Topps Vice President Mark Sapir said in a statement.

Lopez will visit the New York offices of Topps next week to be outfitted in a Yankees’ jersey for his photo shoot. The card, complete with his own statistics and information about his day at Yankee Stadium, will be distributed within packs of six to eight Major League Baseball cards sold for about $2.99 each before the end of 2011, Altman said.

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Limited-edition cards will be autographed by Lopez, Altman said. The numbers of these special cards will be tied to Jeter, such as 3,000 to represent his hits.

Lopez also will review 150 to 200 images of Jeter, selecting the one that will be used for the player’s 2012 Topps Series I card to be issued in February.

“Right now, literally, we want to give him a piece of history,” Altman said. “We’re focusing on the card.”

Altman said he couldn’t predict if the card will become a valuable collectors’ item to anyone other than the members of Lopez’s family.

“With the secondary markets such as EBay and other auctions, it’s hard to say what it might be worth,” Altman said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at nkercheval@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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