- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Most people do not recognize the name Christian Lopez. Most people recognize the name Derek Jeter, the iconic shortstop for the New York Yankees. Their names now are linked forever.
On July 9, Derek Jeter joined a very elite baseball group when he completed his 3,000th hit. All the hits came while playing for one team, the New York Yankees. That July day was amazing because Jeter had five hits in five at bats. That is a challenge. But more amazing was that his second hit of the day was a home run which was his 3000th hit.
That home run is the connection between Derek Jeter and Christian Lopez. Lopez caught the specially marked home run ball and had to decide very quickly what he was going to do. The common response in the last ten years when fans have caught important home runs is to sell the ball. Experts project the ball Lopez caught was worth $250,000 at sports memorabilia auction.
Christian Lopez however did not keep the ball for himself. He was excited to give it to Jeter as a keepsake for this important baseball milestone. Many writers in the New York media thought Lopez was absolutely stupid. Why not be selfish? Don’t give it back to Jeter. Rather, sell it and take care of your family with the proceeds. The newspapers made it sound like everybody in New York would do it just that way.
Apparently Christian Lopez does not look at the world through selfish eyes. He was at the ball park because his girlfriend had bought him the tickets to celebrate his 23rd birthday. He was happy to be part of baseball history. Like most people in the park, he was hoping for a home run and that he would get to catch the ball. He knew he would give the ball back to Jeter. There was no doubt in his mind. Sometimes our wildest dreams do come true.
When the moment occurred he responded just as he had planned. When security came to his rescue to protect him and the valuable ball, the only thing he asked was to meet Jeter and get some signed balls and bats. It was a modest request for such a monumental day in the history of baseball.
“Schmuck” was one of the kinder words used to describe Lopez in the media. He has more than $110,000 in educational loans. He is a cell phone salesman. And yet personal gain was not his prime motivation on that important baseball day. I think “good guy” is a better term for him.
Interestingly he has been well rewarded for his unselfish act. Ironically other people rewarded him for his unselfishness. The Yankees gave him tickets to the rest of the baseball season which would include the post-season and the World Series. That is a dream come true for any fervent Yankee baseball fan.
Two of the Yankee sponsors also got involved. They decided Christian Lopez should be celebrated so they arranged different ways for the people of New York to thank Lopez for his unselfishness. His educational loans have been paid off and opportunities continue to occur for him.
It is marvelous to highlight people who make the tough but right decisions under pressure. Lopez knew what was right for him. He wanted to give the ball to Jeter. He planned it that way. Under the pressure of the incredible moment, Lopez did the right thing. This is a salute for the non-selfish person involved in sports. Sometimes it seems there are too few sports fans who think of other people instead of themselves.
Dr. Wilson is a performance consultant in Hardin County and owner of The Wilson Center for Performance. He is performance anxiety consultant to the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center. He can be reached at TheWilsonCenter7@aol.com.