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Young Fan Wins Lawsuit for Ryan Howard's 200th Career Home Run Ball

Oct 8, 2009 – 11:00 AM
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Ryan Wilson

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Back in July, when the Phillies' Ryan Howard hit his 200th career home run, it was noteworthy because he achieved the milestone in fewer games than anyone in major league history.

And now it's noteworthy for another reason: 12-year-old Jennifer Valdivia, who ended up with the historic ball, was ushered to the Phillies clubhouse after the game to exchange it for an autographed one. Her mother sued the organization and now Jennifer has Howard's 200th home run ball back in her possession.

"My ball,'' Jennifer beamed, according to the Miami Herald. "I have it, finally.''

On Wednesday, NPR's Melissa Block spoke with Norm Kent, Valdivia's attorney, and he explained why the family decided to file a lawsuit.

"The Philadelphia Phillies' team representative, knowing not only the historic value of that baseball, but its financial value, sent a team representative to Marlin security to retrieve young Jennifer from the stands," Kent said. "And she was there, 12-year-old Jennifer, with her 15-year-old brother, neither of the age of majority, offered her some cotton candy and a baseball worth 100 bucks in exchange for one that was worth thousands."

The baseball also had value to Howard, who had just made history, Block countered, before noting that the comments on the Miami Herald web site (Howard set the record in Miami against the Marlins) didn't support the lawsuit.

"Mr. Kent, you probably would not be surprised to know that the comments ... are not favorable to your side," Block began. "I wanted to read one of them to you: 'Way to teach a 12-year-old how to extort money at an early age.' And you know that extorting money for baseball, ball hawking, is becoming a big business among fans."

Kent's response? "I think that if there was extortion that occurred here, it was the Phillies holding the baseball hostage from her for two months after they unlawfully deprived her of it."

According to the Associated Press, the Phillies declined to comment.

The lesson: when in doubt, sue somebody.
Filed under: Sports