The moral dilemma of fans who catch historical or record-breaking baseballs once again returned to the top of everyone's sports news feed as soon as St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
Unlike the fan who caught Aaron Judge's 60th home run, the person who caught Pujols' home run Friday night reportedly left the stadium with the ball after it was authenticated by officials. Pujols, though, wasn't frustrated, upset or worried about not getting the ball back after his historic night.
"Souvenirs are for the fans," he said. "I don’t have any problem if they want to keep it. If they want to give it back, that’s great. But at the end of the day, I don’t focus on material stuff."
It's a pretty tempered response from Pujols, who became just the fourth player in MLB history to reach 700 home runs. The 42-year-old joined Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth as the only other players in the 700 club. Pujols also ranks third in MLB history in RBIs behind Aaron and Ruth.
While the fan left with the ball, there is still a chance he could give it back to Pujols in exchange for something. The fan who caught Judge's home run traded it for signed baseballs, a signed bat, photos with Judge and a personal meet-and-greet with the New York Yankees star.
But the fan isn't legally obligated to return the ball he caught. In the 2002 case between Alex Popov and Patrick Hayashi, the court determined that once a ball was hit, it became intentionally abandoned property of MLB and who would fall into the possession of whoever obtained the ball first. So, it's the fan's choice whether or not he wants to keep the ball, sell it to someone else or trade it back to MLB.
For Pujols, though, it sounds like he's just excited to be a part of history after a 22-year career. The legendary slugger plans to retire after the season ends.