Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit may be worth as much as $250,000 to the person who ends up with the ball.
Jeter, 36, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with a strained right calf, is six hits away from becoming the 28th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the milestone.
If the ball finds its way to auction, a conservative estimate for its sale price would approach $100,000 and it may go for several times that -- because of Jeter’s popularity and his status as the first player to reach the mark in a New York Yankees uniform, several auction house heads said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it could go for as much as a quarter-million dollars,” Doug Allen, president of Chicago-based Legendary Auctions, said in a telephone interview. “Any 3,000-hit ball could approach six figures, but because you have Jeter, who is a popular player, and he’s a Yankee, that could absolutely double the number. Yankee stuff always sells for more than anything else.”
A conservative estimate for Jeter’s 3,000-hit ball would be about $75,000 to $100,000, according to Troy Kinunen, president of Mears Auctions in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“I know nine guys who would bid at that range,” Kinunen said. “What you don’t know is the New York stockbroker who’s not in the hobby, per se, but that catches his fancy and he bids whatever he wants to bid on it. A guy outside the hobby might go crazy over that piece.”
Milestone balls such as a 3,000th hit or 500th home run can be financially safer investments than some that break records, said David Hunt, president of Exton, Pennsylvania-based Hunt Auctions.
“If you’re buying a record-breaking piece such as the Mark McGwire home-run-record ball, that’s certainly historic, but somebody can break the record two years later,” Hunt said.
When comparing 3,000 hits to 500 or 600 home runs, there has been a shift in what’s now seen as more impressive, or at least most pure, said Allen.
Twenty-five players have hit 500 home runs, the most recent being Gary Sheffield on April 17, 2009. The only major leaguers to hit at least 600 home runs are Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630), Sammy Sosa (609) and Alex Rodriguez, who has 626 home runs and is still playing.
“With the development of all the steroid problems in baseball, it’s like the 500th home run and 600th home run have been diluted, and the 3,000th hit is raised in popularity to be the big milestone,” Allen said.
Brandon Steiner, chief executive officer of Steiner Sports Marketing Inc. in New Rochelle, New York, valued Jeter’s milestone ball at between $100,000 and $150,000.
Steiner Sports, Jeter’s exclusive memorabilia seller, is planning to sell autographed collectible bats and photography from the game, as well as game-used items. The company also commissioned artist Stephen Holland to paint a picture of Jeter at the game, of which limited editions will be sold.
“We’re still dreaming up stuff,” Steiner said in a telephone interview as Jeter’s move to the disabled list delayed the achievement. “It’s a little bit of a help for us. We have a little bit more time to play around.”
The National Baseball Hall of Fame also will be ready, having spoken with Jeter and the Yankees about accepting an artifact to commemorate the milestone, Hall spokesman Brad Horn said in a telephone interview.
The museum in Cooperstown, New York, already has 11 Jeter items, including a World Series jersey from his rookie season in 1996 and the batting gloves he wore for hit No. 2,722 in September 2009, breaking Lou Gehrig’s team record. Which item is donated won’t be decided until after the event, Horn said.
The Hall of Fame has 3,000-hit balls from Aaron, Mays, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Paul Waner and Al Kaline.
When he steps to the plate with 2,999 hits, balls pitched to Jeter will be numbered with special markings for authentication purposes, according to John Blundell, a Major League Baseball spokesman. The markings can’t be seen by the naked eye.
The only person to hit a home run for his 3,000th hit was Wade Boggs, on Aug. 7, 1999, at Tropicana Field while playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Other ways the ball could find its way into the stands and into the hands of someone who might put it up for auction include a ground-rule double, where the ball bounces into the stands, and a throwing error that comes after a hit.
“It points more to the higher values than the low, because the likelihood of one of those baseballs getting out there for the collecting public to purchase is very low,” Hunt said.