Two Toronto Blue Jays fans just missed catching the baseball from Aaron Judge’s record-tying 61st home run Wednesday night, missing out on a possible six-figure pay day.
Judge’s 61st home run of the season, tying Yankees great Roger Maris for the American League single-season home run record, cleared the left-field wall at the Rogers Centre and then fell into the Blue Jays’ bullpen after two fans barely missed catching it.
The ball dropped into the Blue Jays bullpen where it was caught by Toronto reliever Matt Buschmann, who gave the ball back to the Yankees and Judge.
The ball was believed to be worth six figures on the sports collectible market.
One of the fans, wearing a Bo Bichette Blue Jays jersey, was visibly distraught over just missing the historic home run ball.
Another fan, Toronto restaurant owner Frankie Lasagna, also just missed catching the ball.
Lasagna told Toronto media he bought his ticket to the game with hopes of catching Judge’s historic home run ball and making a trade with the Yankees star.
“When he hit the ball, it was like ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ I think I hit my buddy in his neck (as I stretched out). I almost got it,” he said.
“I would have held on to it for as long as I could (to) negotiate, maybe get Judge to try to come to the restaurant.”
Judge now has the balls he hit for home runs No. 60 and No. 61. Michael Kessler, a college baseball player at City College of New York, caught Judge’s No. 60 ball and gave it to the Yankees slugger in exchange for autographs and other memorabilia.
If Judge hits one more home run to break the Yankees and American League record, that ball could be worth millions.
Memory Lane Inc. has already announced that it would immediately pay $2 million for the ball from Judge’s record 62nd home run. Memory Lane President JP Cohen said the auction house has a client interested in buying the ball and loaning it back to the Yankees for display at Yankee Stadium.
“It would not be the all-time season record home run ball or a record-breaking lifetime home run ball, but I’m offering $2 million for Judge’s 62nd HR baseball because of its historic significance for the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball,” Cohen said last week.
“In 23 years in the sports cards and memorabilia business, Memory Lane has built up a clientele of avid collectors. One of those passionate collectors is ready to acquire Judge’s 62nd home run ball and have us arrange for its display at Yankee Stadium.”
Another noted baseball memorabilia collector also has his eye on the historic home run chase. Todd McFarlane, who bought Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball for $3 million, told The Athletic that he is watching the Judge home run chase and is interested in the record-setting balls.
“I’ll probably be sniffing around the edges,” McFarlane, the comic book artist known for creating “Spawn” and a toy empire, told The Athletic.
McFarlane, 61, bought the McGwire ball for $3 million in 1999, the most ever paid for an historic home run ball. According to The Athletic, he has spent about $4 million on home run balls, including other McGwire balls and ones used to hit historic home runs by Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, including Bonds’ record 73rd home run for $500,000.
He's not sure how much the Judge ball will attract, but he definitely sees the value.
“That’s a piece of Americana,” he said.
SCP Auctions has a long history of selling historic home run baseballs and SCP President David Kohler believes Judge’s final record home run ball could top $1 million if sold.
“In today’s thriving sports memorabilia market, these home run baseballs will reach high levels of prices realized as passionate collectors worldwide go after them,” Kohler said.
Kohler estimated the ball from home run No. 61 would have sold for $250,000 or more, while the ball from record-breaking No. 62 could top $500,000. The ball from Judge’s final home run of the season, which would establish a new American League record, could reach $1 million, he said.
SCP Auctions sold the ball from Barry Bonds’ record 756th home run for $752,467 in 2007, while the ball from Bonds’ record 762nd home run brought $362,000. The ball from his 755th home run to tie Hank Aaron sold for $186,750.
Last year, SCP sold Bonds’ 500th home run ball for $303,277, while Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run ball went for $97,710.