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Fan returns 3,000th hit to Jeter, team rewards his generosity

As a 23-year-old cell phone salesman, Christian Lopez had thousands of reasons to hold out for the highest bidder on the baseball from Derek Jeter's(notes) 3,000th hit. In fact, some estimates put the ball's worth at $250,000, money that the recent graduate from St. Lawrence University could have certainly used.

And yet when New York Yankees officials found Lopez after he corralled Jeter's historic home run, the only thing that the big Yankees fan wanted was to return the ball to the man who had hit it.

Watch an interview with Lopez on YES

Yes, Lopez was willing to just give away what seemed like a sure lottery ticket

"No, not really," Lopez said when Yankees announcer Michael Kay later asked him if he asked for anything in return. "He deserves this, he's worked hard for this ... I'm not the type of person to take this away from him."

That's a pretty nice gesture, no doubt. But lest you think the Yankees were just going to take the ball away without any compensation, they rewarded Lopez's generosity with a pretty nice package.

According to Kay, Lopez will receive four tickets to a suite for every remaining game at Yankee Stadium this season (including any possible playoff games) plus first row Legends Suite tickets to Sunday's game. He also received an assortment of bats and jerseys, plus a meeting with Jeter — who came away impressed, and gave him some good advice after finding out how Lopez got his tickets for Saturday's game:

Fan returns 3,000th hit to Jeter, team rewards his generosity

"I had an opportunity to meet him a little while ago," Jeter said after getting the ball from Lopez. "He got his tickets from his girlfriend, so he owes her quite a bit. He's going to be paying her back for quite some time."

And, topping it off, the Yankees came away with a 5-4 victory in which Jeter drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth to cap a 5 for 5 day in the batter's box. Lopez was a guest of honor at one of the best Yankees games of the season.

Not a bad haul for someone who was at the game on birthday tickets he received from his girlfriend.

And while there are going to be plenty of people who question his decision, I'm guessing that the integrity Lopez showed in returning the ball to Jeter is going to benefit him in his life and future career as well.

What would you have done?

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