As Aaron Judge hit his record-breaking 62nd home run, one fan struck the jackpot.
The New York Yankees slugger moved clear of Roger Maris’ single-season American League record with his 62nd home run Tuesday, and Cory Youmans – sitting in left field with a front-row seat – was the lucky fan who caught the historic souvenir at Globe Life Field.
A Dallas resident and Texas Rangers fan, Youmans said he doesn’t know yet whether he’ll keep the ball, and after making the catch – an event that prompted euphoric celebrations – he was escorted from the section of seats by security.
Should Youmans sell the ball, he could be set for a handsome payday.
“In the last week or so, our colleagues at Memory Lane auction house have guaranteed to pay the person who catches the ball $2 million,” Bobby Livingston, Executive Vice President of RR Auction, told CNN.
“With all the publicity and excitement, plus the fact that it’s Aaron Judge of the Yankees, I wouldn’t be surprised if another auction house or sports investment group purchases the ball for $5 million in the current environment of the sports memorabilia market.
“Assuming that Judge doesn’t play tonight [against the Rangers], this ball will live forever in New York Yankee lore.”
However, Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions, calls the $2 million price tag a “drastic overpay” and “more of a publicity stunt,” instead valuing the ball at $1.25 million.
“It’s a historic achievement that is boosted by the fact he is a loved player and plays for the New York Yankees,” Goldin told CNN, adding that $1.25 million would make this the second most expensive baseball ever sold.
In 1999, Mark McGwire’s 70th home run baseball fetched $3 million at auction including commission, at the time making it the most money ever paid for a sports artifact.
David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions, agrees that higher valuations are used as a tool to generate “branding and media coverage” for auctions houses and that Judge’s 62nd home run ball is “more of a $500,000 to $1 million item from an estimated standpoint.”
“But to be clear,” Hunt told CNN, “I certainly could see a path where it would bring a million or maybe even two if the proper bidders got involved. That’s not impossible.”
In a statement sent to CNN, Lelands auction house called Judge’s 62nd home run ball “the most valuable baseball hit in recent years … estimated to fetch over seven figures.”
“It’s just incredible that a $20 baseball can turn into a seven figure ball with one crack of the bat,” the statement added.
When Judge tied Maris’ record with his 61st home run last week, no fans were able to catch the ball as it fell into the bullpen and was eventually passed along to Judge, who then gave it to his mother.
Michael Kessler, the 20-year-old fan who caught Judge’s 60th home run, exchanged the ball for a clubhouse meet-and-greet with the Yankees slugger, four signed baseballs and a signed game bat, according to MLB.com.
“I don’t know where it’s at,” Judge told reporters when asked about the fate of his 62nd home run ball.
“We’ll see what happens with that. It’d be great to get it back but that’s a souvenir for a fan. They made a great catch out there and they’ve got every right to it.”
Since breaking Maris’ 61-year-old record with his 391-feet drive in the first inning of Tuesday’s game against the Rangers, Judge has received widespread praise – including from President Joe Biden.
“Congrats @TheJudge44 on home run 62. History made, more history to make,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
Barry Bonds holds the major league single-season record of 73 home runs, but many have cast doubt on that landmark given he – along with other players of that era – was embroiled in performance-enhancing drug scandals and allegedly used steroids. Bonds has denied those allegations.
While it remains unclear whether Judge will play Wednesday in the final game of the regular season, he has an outside chance of winning the American League triple crown by leading the circuit in batting average, runs batted in and home runs.
He is first in home runs and RBIs but trails Minnesota Twins star Luis Arráez in batting average.
If Judge does play on Wednesday and hits another home run, that would likely alter the value of Tuesday night’s ball.
“It’s not his final home run ball, it’s not the one that established a new record and thus it’s not nearly as viable,” Hunt explained.
But there’s also a scenario whereby Youmans’ catch only increases in value.
“If we go another 15, 20, 30 years and nobody breaks that record, this could end up being a very, very special, historic piece, which would point towards a higher value range,” said Hunt.