Making money on MLB games isn’t easy to do from the stands. Tickets are expensive, not to mention parking, food, and other incidentals people may accrue. However, over the years, the memorabilia business has exploded. As the sports memorabilia business has grown profitably, it has opened up a new revenue stream for fortunate fans.
Anyone attending MLB games can land a nice addition to their bank account if they happen to be at an event where an important milestone is reached. Not that this is an easy task. You must be at the event and get lucky enough to grab the ball. Here’s a look at some fans that cashed in on being in the right place at the right time.
There are a few candidates in the 2022 season for fans to cash in. Aaron Judge will likely break the American League home run record, while Albert Pujols is closing in on career home run No. 700.
Say what you want about Barry Bonds, and people have said much about the former Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants slugger, but few had hand-eye coordination like Bonds. He wrapped up his career with 762 career home runs. The home run balls Bonds hit along the way became big moneymakers for their owners.
When Bonds hit No. 756 to pass Hank Aaron’s record, that home run ball sold for $742,576 on the market. While Bonds’ last career home run, No. 763, sold for $282,900. Bonds’ career may not take him to the Hall of Fame due to allegations of PED use; his home run totals made a lot of money for the random fans who caught the record-breaking balls.
Big Mac Loses Value
Much like Bonds, McGwire is a slugger whose accomplishments have been tarnished by PED use. In McGwire’s case, however, he has admitted to doing things against the spirit of the game. However, in 1998 when McGwire set the MLB record for home runs, allegations of steroid use were largely rumors that were ignored.
McGwire’s 70th home run ball from that season was sold to collector Todd McFarlane. That ball is now valued between 200,000 to 300,000.
Hard to Top the Babe
Babe Ruth is one of the most enduring personalities in baseball history. Most famously associated with smashing home runs in the dead-ball era and for being involved in a trade that forever changed the histories of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox has led to a lot of interest in his surviving artifacts. A two-run home run ball hit by Babe Ruth in 1933 at the MLB All-Star game generated interest years later at an auction.
The ball, which Ruth also signed, sold for $805,000.
Giving it Away for Free
Fans deciding to profit off a ball they caught isn’t always what fans are interested in. A college student caught Aaron Judge’s 60th home run ball on Sept. 20, 2022, and decided to give the ball back to the team. While some people estimated the value of the ball at $150,000, 20-year-old Michael Kessler decided to give the ball back.
Kessler traded the ball for an opportunity to meet Judge and take a photo, along with a collection of other bats and balls signed by Judge.
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A Special Memory
When Albert Pujols passed Alex Rodriguez for fourth all-time on the MLB’s home run list, he hit home run No. 697 in Pittsburgh. The ball was caught by Matt Brown, who had traveled from Buffalo with his wife Samantha to see the game. Samantha was a Cardinals fan and told Pujols about how her dad, also a big fan, had passed away a year to the date before the game.
Pujols told her to keep the ball, as it would mean more as a memory to her than to be just another ball sitting in his trophy case. In Pujols’ case, he has other milestones to reach before he retires.