Baseball Great Albert Pujols Defends Property Rights
I don’t play this game so I can pay fans so they can give me, you know… He can have that piece of history, its for the fans that we play for too. He has the right to keep it, the ball went in the stands so I would never fight anybody to give anything back.
This is a quote from baseball great Albert Pujols. Pujols, a Los Angeles Angel hitter, hit a long home run in Detroit. What made it special is that it was his 2,000th RBI.
A Detroit fan named Ely Hydes corralled the ball and when the security team asked him with, according to Hydes, a pretty nasty tone, to give the ball to them so that they could give it to Pujols, he refused. They did offer him money. In an interview later with a Detroit radio station, he said that he was trying to decide whether to give the ball to his brother, his father, or Pujols. Later, he said, he was thinking of selling it to provide for the baby that’s on the way. But, he said, the nasty treatment he got from the Detroit Tiger officials caused him to get his back up. He objected to being given an ultimatum with virtually no time to decide. A law student, he said that you don’t take the offer right away–you think about it.
Disappointingly, the Detroit officials told him that they would refuse to authenticate the ball, making it worthless. I’m not sure it would be worthless: the whole incident has kind of authenticated the ball. But the Detroit officials’ dog-in-the-manger approach is not admirable.
Some other people, though, are not so admirable. Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes:
Still, why can’t Hydes be like Scott Steffel, a Cal-State Fullerton student at the time, who caught Pujols’ 600th home run and returned the ball to Pujols? And asked for nothing in return.
He just may be morally wrong, keeping a baseball that would mean so much more to Pujols — and perhaps the baseball world if the ball goes to Cooperstown — than preserved in his own house.
At age 68, I should know by now that there are many people in the world who presume to tell others what to do with their wealth. That’s bad enough. But even to suggest that Hydes, a law student in debt, is immoral for not giving some of his wealth to a very wealthy man, is breathtaking.
Interestingly, when people presume, they often get their facts wrong. Nightengale writes above that the baseball would mean so much more to Pujols. How in tarnation does he know? In fact, if we take Pujols at his word, we know that Nightengale’s assertion is false. Pujols said that he “won’t pay one penny” for the ball. So it’s worth less than a penny to Pujols. Call it a hunch, but I bet it’s worth more than a penny to Hydes.
Pujols’s attitude is admirable. He defended a stranger’s property rights.
May 10 2019 at 7:16pm
Readers: I have no idea why the software scrunches up my paragraphs and makes the type small. It does this occasionally and I haven’t figured out why.
Lauren Landsburg, Econlib Editor
May 11 2019 at 4:03am
I’ve fixed this problem for this post, which was due to mismatched html coding in the text of the entry for your post.
Sometimes when bloggers do a cut-and-paste from another site in order to enter a quote, the required html end-codes are not included, or are included out-of-order. The blogging software then takes a guess about how to enter any required corrected html end-codes, but it commonly guesses wrongly, which can cause the page formatting to be different from what the blogger expects.
Also note that a site-user’s browser may overlay on top of that a corrected or more robust formatting, displaying it properly even if it is coded in an unexpected way. So, I think in this case, many of our site-readers did not see the “scrunching” you initially described.
May 11 2019 at 4:50am
It seems like it’s a matter of negotiated contract terms as to whether a fan’s ticket includes the right to keep baseballs as souvenirs. It would seem to as a matter of custom and tradition. If MLB teams wanted fans to return balls that were historically significant, they could just state that explicitly as part of the ticket contract.
Regardless, the Tigers were wrong to refuse to authenticate the ball. Obviously, the ball is authentic, not fake, and the issue of authenticity should be kept separate from who owns the ball.
May 11 2019 at 5:19am
“But even to suggest that Hydes, a law student in debt, is immoral for not giving some of his wealth to a very wealthy man, is breathtaking.”
I don’t disagree with anything in this post, but this is bizarre. Henderson arguing that inequality of wealth should be a major factor in determining property rights, or whicy way property rights should be transferred?
Having said that, the commentator to whom H is responding may well not be a staunch property rights believer, so it’s clear that the commentator was being astoundingly thoughtless.
May 11 2019 at 8:51am
Henderson arguing that inequality of wealth should be a major factor in determining property rights, or whicy way property rights should be transferred?
I argued no such thing. As the sentence you quote shows, I was talking about the morality of it, not about rights. The rights are clear and not in dispute. It was the morality that was at issue, at least for most of the people who commented on this on line.
May 14 2019 at 12:20pm
“Pujols said that he “won’t pay one penny” for the ball. So it’s worth less than a penny to Pujols”
Not necessarily. He may have a moral stance against paying for it; there are things I value that I wouldn’t pay for. It also could be a negotiating tactic.
Comments are closed.