Sports

Fan with Jeter ball gets his own card

The fan who returned Derek Jeter’s ball from his 3,000th hit will get a bit of memorabilia to keep — his own baseball card.

Topps says it will produce a trading card featuring Christian Lopez that will be included in sets later this year.

“We thought what he did captures the essence of what baseball and the Topps company is about,” said Mark Sapir, Topps vice president for sports.

The recent college graduate with outstanding student loans will get some financial help, too.

Memorabilia dealer Brandon Steiner and sporting goods CEO Mitch Modell of Modell Sporting Goods said they will make sure Lopez gets at least $50,000 toward his outstanding student loans of $150,000.

“That itself is a totally awesome situation right now for all parties involved,” Lopez said.

What impressed the sports executives – as well as countless others – was the way a 23-year-old mobile phone salesman passed on the chance to cash in. Instead, Lopez gave the ball to Jeter, saying he deserved to have the keepsake.

“Can you believe how good a mensch this kid was?” Steiner said.

Lopez, a former offensive lineman at St. Lawrence University in New York, has been overrun with requests since Saturday.

“It’s been overwhelming, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s been a little crazy. But I’m handling it as best I can. I’m trying to get back to everybody I can.”

That includes Topps.

“Yeah, I spoke with them a couple days ago,” Lopez said. “All I know, is they kind of want to make a baseball card out of me.”

Lopez was an avid collector as a kid. He said he has “probably a couple thousand baseball cards.”

His favorite? A Yankees card, of course. It depicts Babe Ruth and one of the team owners at the time he came over from the Red Sox in 1920.

The Yankees asked Lopez what he wanted in exchange for the ball. Instead of saying he wanted money or would sell it at auction, Lopez said he wanted to give the ball to Jeter.

The Yankees insisted Lopez take autographed balls, bats, and two Jeter-signed jerseys and the big prize, four Champions suit season tickets for the rest of the season, including the playoffs.

SHORT HOPS

The All-Star Game drew a record-low rating for the second consecutive year, a 6.9 rating and 12 share for Fox. That’s down 8 percent from the 7.5/13 in 2010. … Prosecutors said that needles and cotton balls Roger Clemens’ former trainer says he used to inject the star pitcher tested positive for Clemens’ DNA and anabolic steroids — evidence the defense said was faked at the trial for Clemens on charges he lied to Congress about having taken steroids. … The Cleveland Indians placed right-hander Mitch Talbot on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday, with a lower back strain. … The St. Louis Cardinals signed left-hander Jaime Garcia to a four-year contract extension with club options for a fifth and sixth season. … Yankees right-hander Mark Prior allowed an unearned run and one hit over two innings for the Gulf Coast League Yankees against Atlanta minor leaguers after missing almost three months because of a strained groin.

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