Sports customs say that players can swap numbers upon arriving at a new team, but they don't always come cheap. Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman, for instance, recently got a Rolex for agreeing to give Ubaldo Jimenez No. 31 after Jimenez signed with the Orioles this season.
Most of the time, jersey-number trade negotiations involve luxury items or big checks. But when John Lackey was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals at the July 31 deadline, he saw that Pat Neshek wore his No. 41. Lackey would get the number, but this wasn't a simple give-the-man-a-nice-watch transaction.
Neshek is an avid baseball memorabilia collector and even has a website where he shows off his autographed cards. So, in exchange for No. 41, Lackey gave Neshek an autographed Babe Ruth ball.
Obligatory "Who is she?" reference:
There will be no confusion on Neshek's part about just how important that ball is. We don't know the value of this specific piece because there are a lot of factors in play, such as quality of the ball. The signature, however, looks relatively legible compared to some other balls on the market.
Since prices vary with autographed items, like they do with Rolexes, it seems fair to guess Lackey paid between $10,000 and $20,000 for the Babe Ruth ball.
If you're Neshek — a guy who had never worn No. 41 prior to this year and who will be a free agent at season's end — that's one heck of a deadline deal.
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