A-Rod doesn't get 3,000th hit ball

A-Rod doesn't get 3,000th hit ball

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez has spent part of this season collecting home run balls of significance for his personal collection, swapping meet-and-greets for the mementos. It looks like he'll have to do without his 3,000th hit, which he notched during the Yankees' 7-2 win over the Tigers on Friday.

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Rodriguez's first-inning homer off the Tigers' Justin Verlander was caught in the right-field seats by Zack Hample, a 37-year-old from New York who has published a book on the art of snagging baseballs at games.

The Yankees said that team president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost spoke to Hample about the ball, which has been authenticated by Major League Baseball. Hample has said that he intends to keep this one.

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"Maybe years ago that would have been kind of an important thing for me," Rodriguez said. "I think about 2015 and I think about 2009, and for me there's a lot of resemblance there.

"The memory -- in my 21-year career -- by far, nothing that I've done personally would ever compare to winning the championship in 2009. I don't have a ball, I don't have a bat, but I do have a memory, and the memory lives forever. Kind of the same way I feel about the ball."

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The situation is the reverse of Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, which was caught in the left-field seats by Christian Lopez on July 9, 2011. Lopez returned the ball to the Yankees, saying that he wanted Jeter to have it; the team rewarded him with memorabilia and tickets, plus an opportunity to meet Jeter.

"The thing I was thinking about is, 'Where's Jeet's guy, the guy that caught the ball?'" Rodriguez said. "That's the guy that I needed here. Where's that guy? I wasn't so lucky. I'm just fortunate and grateful and really having a good time this year."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.