Fan To Return A-Rod's 3,000th Hit For $150,000 To Charity

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — All’s well that ends well.

Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees settled their dispute over a marketing payment with a deal announced Friday that gives $3.5 million to charitable groups, saves the team $5.5 million and gets A-Rod the home run ball from his 3,000th hit.

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At the time Rodriguez and the Yankees signed their $275 million, 10-year contract in December 2007, they reached a separate marketing agreement. It called for $6 million each for up to five milestone accomplishments in exchange for marketing rights, such as using A-Rod’s name and image in selling licensed goods. The first was to be for A-Rod’s 660th home run, tying Willie Mays for fourth on the career list.

The club’s relationship with Rodriguez deteriorated during 2013, when he was a target of Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis drug investigation. That led to A-Rod’s suspension for the entire 2014 season after then-Commissioner Bud Selig concluded he violated the sport’s drug agreement and labor contract. Rodriguez sued MLB, the players’ union and the Yankees’ team physician, then dropped the litigation.

When the 39-year-old hit No. 660 on May 1, New York said it had the discretion not to make the payment and declined to do so, saying his marketing rights did not have any worth. MLB and the players’ association stopped the clock on the time to file a grievance as negotiations continued.

Under the deal, the Yankees will split $1 million among the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa and Pitch In For Baseball.

The team has been a longtime funder of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa.

Zack Hample, the fan who retrieved Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium on June 19, supports Pitch In For Baseball, which says its mission is to assist children around the world through baseball. The charity was to receive $150,000, he said.

Hample made headlines when he caught the home run and refused to give it to Rodriguez.

“I wasn’t thinking of selling it. I don’t catch baseballs to get rich. When I see a home run ball behind me, I don’t see dollar signs in the air,” Hample said. “It’s not like that. I do this for fun”

Seated next to Rodriguez during a news conference celebrating the deal, Hample reached into his backpack and pulled out a ziploc bag with the authenticated ball in it. He took the ball out of the baggie and he and A-Rod together held it up for photographers.

Rodriguez said his daughters can fight over who will get to keep the ball in their bedroom.

“Who would’ve thunk that one swing of the bat, one home run would create so much attention,” Rodriguez said. “But more importantly, such a generous donation by the Steinbrenner family to benefit your wonderful organization.”

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In turn, Rodriguez presented Hample with an autographed jersey and two autographed bats, one with the message written on it, “Nice catch.”

“I would not unsnag the ball to be in the situation I was in today, and to be able to do this for Pitching in Baseball – it’s just incredible,” Hample said at the news conference.

“I want to thank this opportunity to thank the Yankees, MLB Union, Major League Baseball for all their hard work to put this behind us,” Rodriguez added. “Now we can focus on playing baseball and winning some games.”

Hample originally tweeted out disparaging comments about Rodriguez, but has since apologized.

“First of all, you’re forgiven,” Rodriguez told Hample at the news conference. “I have a Ph.D. in saying some dumb things over the years.”

Hample has collected more than 8,100 balls during batting practice and games.

As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported, Hample thought about selling the ball in an auction. But after meeting with the Yankees front office twice, he settled on a charity angle.

“It’s definitely hard to give up the ball,” Hample said earlier in the day at his Manhattan apartment. “It’s the centerpiece of my collection. The thing I really wanted was the ball, more than any other memorabilia. But it’s going for a good cause. That was the main part of this, so it all turned out well.”

The Yankees will donate $2.5 million to the MLB Urban Youth Foundation, to be used in programs to increase youth participation in baseball, with a focus on urban areas. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred will pick the initiatives after speaking with Rodriguez, and Manfred promised to consider charitable activities the player has focused on.

In addition to saving $2.5 million — the difference between the $6 million originally called for and the charitable payments the team agreed to make — the Yankees will save $3 million in luxury tax, since Rodriguez will not be receiving the money personally. New York pays at a 50 percent rate on the portion of its payroll above the $189 million threshold.

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