Derek Jeter hit a home run for his 3,000th hit when the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays with a final score of 5-4—primarily due to Jeter's impressive five-hit performance, including a single that sent in the winning run. Now, he becomes the first player in franchise history to surpass that milestone and the 28th overall to join the club.

It's undoubtedly an amazing feat and he should be commemorated for it, but behind all that is an interesting story about the man who caught the ball.

Christian Lopez was the lucky guy, and he had the generosity to give the ball back to Jeter at the end of the game, which is a rather admirable gesture in my opinion.

Even though he didn't ask for anything, the Yankees insisted on giving Lopez tickets and memorabilia in return.

Little did he know that he would ultimately be taxed by the IRS, as they marked the gifts as "income." When it's all said and done, he owes approximately $14,000 as a tax bill.

He was a good sport about it, telling the New York Daily News, "Worse comes to worse, I'll have to pay the taxes. The IRS has a job to do, so I'm not going to hold it against them, but it would be cool if they helped me out a little on this."

Personally, I would've done the same thing, simply because it's the right thing to do considering it's such a huge accomplishment for the athlete, but I have to be honest and say that I'd be a little ticked off if I had to pay taxes on the gift.

With that being said, here are five alternate things Christian Lopez could have done with the ball instead.

Note: Keep in mind, this is more of a humor/speculation piece.

Sold It

Christian Lopez did receive tickets that would give him an estimated value of between $45,000-$75,000, but he could have sold the ball for much more. In fact, some say bidders would have gone as high as $250,000, according to Yahoo! Sports.

For a man who apparently still has $100,000 left in student loans, that's a significant sum of money that would go a long way.

Sure, it's the greedy thing to do, but in this economy sometimes you've got to take what you can get.

Kept It

Everyone likes to boast their most-prized possessions, whether it be on a fireplace mantel or in a trophy case. How cool would it be if you had Derek Jeter's 3,000th-hit ball in your collections?

It would definitely be something to show off when guests come over, and would at least make for a fantastic story.

Donated It

Lopez opted to give the ball back to Jeter because it would've been the right thing to do. You know what would have been the even nicer thing to do? Donate it to charity.

Whether it be United Way or the American Cancer Society, they could have used the ball in a multitude of ways—possibly generating even more money with the bidder knowing it was going to a cause in need.

Given It To His Dad

Christian Lopez's dad, Raul, who attended the game with him, was actually the one who initially attempted to catch the ball. However, it slipped out of his hands before the former collegiate defensive tackle pounced on it like a loose fumble.

Honestly, I can't think of a better Father's Day present than a home-run ball from Derek Jeter, let alone the one that gave him his 3,000th hit.

Demanded More

As I made reference to earlier, Lopez was compensated for returning the ball. According to a Yahoo! Sports article he received luxury box tickets for the remainder of the season and playoffs, along with signed baseballs, bats and jerseys from Jeter himself. Additionally, he was given front-row seats to Sunday's Yankees-Rays game.

Yes, I know he was selfless by not asking for anything to start with, but knowing he would have been taxed on it, could he have asked for more?

Perhaps lifetime season tickets or a jersey signed by all of the Yankees? The possibilities are endless.

By Mihir Bhagat


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