Ryan Howard’s Record HR Ball Subject of Dispute Between Fan, Team
Home run balls are some of the most treasured game-used collectibles one can obtain from a Major League Baseball game - especially when they come off the bat of a star player like Ryan Howard. Though they can be sold by enterprising fans lucky enough to be in the right place in the right time, most often they end up going home with the lucky recipient and retaining more sentimental value for their connection to the game than anything else.
Milestone home run balls are different. Fans have become increasingly aware of the fact that catching the right record-setting baseball can be a financial gold mine, and disputed ownership of some record-breaking homers over the last decade has led to physical and legal battles alike.
On top of that, players often want especially significant home run balls back for themselves. MLB teams are accustomed to dealing with these requests, and it's not uncommon for them to identify who caught the baseball and offer him or her autographed memorabilia in order to secure its return.
But even these transactions don't always go smoothly, and it appears that is the case with Howard's most recent record-setting blast. On July 16, the Phillies slugger became the fastest player in MLB history to 200 homers, reaching the mark in 658 games when he went deep against the Florida Marlins.
That round-tripper was caught by 12-year old Jennifer Baldiva. The Phillies approached the girl about obtaining the ball, and team officials said she asked for a ball autographed by Howard in return. They complied with the request and thought the matter was resolved with everyone happy.
However, Baldiva told a Philadelphia TV station she also asked to meet Howard in person and was upset when that proved not to be the case.
"They lied to me and I was like really sad that I couldn't meet Ryan Howard," Baldiva said to Fox 29.
For their part, the Phillies have promised to make it up to Baldiva later in the season, as she has made noises about wanting the original ball back. The team has a three-game series in late September that could offer the chance to straighten out the whole situation.
"Because there appears to have been a simple misunderstanding, we're going to be very happy to make Ryan Howard available to the young girl who caught his home run ball when the team goes back to Florida in September," Phillies spokesman Scott Palmer said to Fox 29.