Thanks for destroying a fine tradition.
Here's the face of a game ball mercenary
It used to be, when you went to a ballgame you and your kid could get near the players, and get an autograph. If you were really lucky you could catch a home run ball, and many times if you were an adult, the unwritten law was to give it to the kid next to you that was dreaming of it. In doing so, you created a memory that lasted a lifetime, and the child grows up to become a lifelong fan.
Too bad overzealous "adults" are acting like snotty kids and destroying this time honored tradition.
I can’t call these people “fans”. What they are are memorabilia mercenaries throwing anyone in their way aside to get to a foul ball and add another trophy to their collection which can, often times, be held for ransom -- a hostage for a greater reward in a continuing sign that the Ugly American can be selfish in the extreme.
Case in point is “blogger” (sorry, he’s giving even the worst basement dweller a bad name) Nick Yohanek, who proudly proclaims on “The Happy Youngster...Brew Town's Ballhawk” that he “has hauled in more baseballs than he cares to count and has 49 game home run baseballs hit during actual MLB games.”
He recounts his pre-game ritual, going over how he uses mink oil on his glove and microwaves it for a curing effect (Remember, this is the guy's “hobby.” I’m not making this up, there are pictures at the link to prove it), and then taking in the Weds. 5/13 game at Miller Park.
Along comes Chris Coghlan of the Marlins, who proceeds to hit his first big league homer, to whit, Yohanek snags the ball. Let’s let the “hobbyist” describe what happened next:
The Marlins bullpen called me over and I spoke with Bullpen Coach Steve Foster. Mr. Foster informed me that the ball was Chris Coghlan's first career home run. He offered me another baseball in exchange. I respectfully declined. With over 775 career baseballs snagged, I didn't need another ball. He asked me what I was looking to get. I informed him I would like a couple of bats. Especially, one by the player who hit the ball. He told me, "oh, you are a big fan. No problem, we can do that."
I assured him that Chris Coghlan would get his home run ball.
I told him the first thing I wanted to do, before all else, was to get the baseball authenticated by major league baseball. That way, there would be no question as to the authenticity of the ball. I told him I would not give up the ball until it was authenticated.
If you read through the rest of this lengthy post, you get into the meat of the matter: the ransom for the game ball that he had “decided on 30 min earlier”
1st piece of paper:
CHRIS COGHLAN GAME BAT signed-
"To Nick, thanks for catching my first home run!"
one (1) signed CHRIS COGHLAN ball
2nd piece of paper:
HANLEY RAMIREZ GAME BAT
Yes, that’s right “THE END”. Yohanek then gets indignant by adding:
So, where's the confusion?? Where's the part about me being unreasonable and asking for a whole bunch of stuff from other players? Where's the part about me holding the ball for ransom?
Simple as that.
Plain English-right in front of the camera. Documented and concrete.
Yes, "simple as that." The rest is too nauseating to cover here. Needless to say, the Marlins were willing to bend on the Coghlan related memorabilia for the exchange, but declined on the Hanley Ramirez game bat.
Last bit of commentary here: It’s often said that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Yohanek is the face of the bad apple, and explains why players no longer are willing to sign autographs, knowing that, often times, these pieces of memorabilia wind up on eBay, or, in the case of this sad sack “blogger”, added as yet another trophy beyond the beyond.
Can you imagine what this guy would say if someone said to him, "Say, why don’t you give the ball to that kid that was hoping for it."?
"Tell he can have it... but only if he meets my hostage demands."
(Thanks to The Big Lead)
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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