The Derek Jeter fan who gave back the historic 3,000th-hit ball that his idol blasted into the left-field stands — a memento worth about $250,000 — said Sunday he would do it again "100 times."
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Sitting in a seat along the third-base line five rows above the visitors’ dugout Sunday, Christian Lopez basked in his newfound fame — and the extra thumbs-up he got from an at-bat Jeter, who notched his astounding 3,000th hit with the ball Saturday.
"Every person in the stadium wanted to touch that ball," Lopez said.
"[But] I would have done it over again 100 times," he said of his giveback. "I think I did the right thing."
Lopez, 23, who works for Verizon, said he owes about $100,000 in student loans but would rather pay it off the old-fashioned way than rob Jeter of his memento.
"Three thousand hits isn’t something that happens every day," Lopez said.
"The Yankees didn’t pressure me to give the ball back to Jeter," he insisted. "I just really wanted to give it back for everything the guy has done for us."
The young man’s dad, Raul "Chico" Lopez, told the New York Post that at first, the ball "landed right in my hand, and then it bounced out."
"I can’t believe I dropped the ball," he said.
When his son told him he planned to return the ball to Jeter, the dad asked him, "Are you sure this is what you want to do?"
"I would have handled it differently if I had held on to the ball," the dad acknowledged. "But I couldn’t be more proud of [Christian]."
Brandon Steiner, the CEO of Steiner Sports, which works with the Yankees selling memorabilia, said Lopez was given tickets to the rest of the team’s 32 home games, worth at least $44,800.
The freebies include four tickets for the uber-pricey Legend section for one game, worth a total of $6,000, and then four tickets for each of the rest of the games in the stadium’s "Championship" section, where seats go for $350.
Jeter himself gave Lopez three signed bats, three signed balls and three signed jerseys.