With the state of the sports memorabilia market these days, snagging momentous home run balls — like, say, a generational prospect’s first career dinger — has become a cottage industry unto itself, with full adults traveling the country and clambering over fans to get their hands on valuable souvenirs.
Which is why what happened in Cincinnati on Wednesday night felt so refreshing. Newly-promoted Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz has looked every bit like a superstar in the making over his first two games, tallying his first career hit on Tuesday night and then following that up with a 458-foot moonshot for his first MLB homer a day later. Given De La Cruz’s jaw-dropping potential — he also went home-to-third in 10.83 seconds last night, the fastest such time in the Majors so far this season at 6’5 — there’s no telling how much that baseball might be worth on the open market.
But the Reds fan who actually wound up with it didn’t really care about all that. He just wanted to meet his favorite team’s new savior, while getting a little something for his friends in the process:
In addition to a photo-op with De La Cruz and a signed bat, the kid also negotiated signed baseballs for his whole squad, which is the kind of negotiating tact that should land him a job in the State Department. De La Cruz has a 1.841 OPS over his first two MLB games, while the Reds have twice walked off the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers in front of a raucous home crowd at Great American Ball Park.