Did Dodgers underestimate value of Shohei Ohtani's first homer? It may be worth $100,000.

Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

LOS ANGELES — A baseball falls from the sky and into a fan's hands. Or at least it comes to rest near their feet and they reach down and secure it. The fan has taken possession of something that might have monetary value. It is theirs to do with as they wish.

Ambar Roman's seat in the Dodger Stadium right-field pavilion April 3 became the resting point of Shohei Ohtani's first home run as a Dodger. The 28-year-old Whittier woman picked up the ball and her world became a swirl.

Roman and her husband, Alexis Valenzuela, say Dodgers security personnel persuaded her to surrender the ball for a bat, a ball and two caps, all autographed by Ohtani. Why? Ohtani wanted the genuine article and told reporters after the game, "For me, it's a very special ball, so I'm thankful."

Two experts at auction houses that regularly auction baseball memorabilia said the ball is worth approximately $100,000, while the signed merchandise Roman received in exchange for the ball would sell for less than $10,000.

Gary Cypres, founder of the Sports Museum of Los Angeles and owner of the greatest collection of Dodgers memorabilia anywhere, said, "I might be willing to pay a little more than the $100,000" but that other Dodgers collectors probably would pay $50,000 to $75,000.

Roman and Valenzuela said the Dodgers told her the ball would be worthless if she took it home because it would not be "authenticated," a word with a precise meaning regarding sports memorabilia in general and a baseball hit into the stands in particular.


The couple also said Dodgers personnel would not allow Valenzuela to participate in his wife's negotiation and did not escort them to the parking lot with their Ohtani-autographed merchandise, resulting in a public relations black eye for a franchise generally regarded as operating with class and in the best interests of its fan base.

The episode isn't over: Roman and her family are invited to Dodger Stadium on Friday — on her birthday, no less! — during which she will receive more memorabilia and premium seats for giving the ball to Ohtani, who a Dodgers official said is expected to meet her. Onlookers undoubtedly will be calculating whether her haul is roughly equivalent to the six-figure valuation.

The Dodgers also said they're going to analyze how they interact with fans who secure milestone baseballs.

"We're excited to host them again for a special night and give them a special Dodger experience," said Lon Rosen, the Dodgers' executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "And we're going to review the process."


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