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How much could Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run ball be worth? This Dallasite could learn soon

The fan in section 31 caught the jackpot ball clean with a glove on his right hand.

ARLINGTON — The lucky ticket, turns out, was Seat 3, Row 1, Section 31. The fortunate fan in that seat, Cory Youmans of Dallas, hit the jackpot when he reached out his gloved right hand and snared Aaron Judge’s American League record-breaking 62nd home run of the season.

How much of a windfall did Youmans reap? That was unclear as of Tuesday night, but we know the ball is worth at least $2 million because that is the bounty that a memorabilia company staked on the baseball two weeks ago.

What mostly mattered to Judge, his Yankees teammates, the home-team Texas Rangers and the 38,831 Globe Life Field fans not named Youmans was that they were part of baseball history on this idyllic roof-open night in the regular season’s next-to-last game, with the Rangers pulling out a 3-2 victory.

Judge, 30, broke the American League home run record of 61 that he’d shared with Roger Maris since Sept. 28. It took Judge 24 more at-bats, including 10 in this series against the Rangers, to finally break the record that fellow-Yankee Maris set in 1961.

“I can’t lie,” Judge said, when asked if he was relieved to finally get the record. “These past couple of games I’d look up and it’s the seventh inning and I’m like, ‘Dang, I’ve only got one more at-bat. We’ve got to figure this out.’

“I’ve never tried to focus on a number. I’ve never tried to focus on going out there and (breaking the record). I just go out there and play my game, and if I’m good enough and God willing, it’ll happen.”

With the record out of the way, Judge was left out of the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Rangers.

National League players Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have combined for six seasons of 63 home runs or more, led by Bonds’ 73 in 2001, but all those seasons occurred during the so-called Steroid Era.

“You are all class and someone who should be revered,” the late Maris’ son, Roger Jr., tweeted of Judge. “For the MAJORITY of fans, we can now celebrate a new CLEAN HOME RUN KING.”

Youmans, a vice president at Fisher Investments in Dallas according to his LinkedIn profile, was the night’s much lesser-known co-star.

When leadoff-batter Judge crushed the game’s third pitch from Rangers starter Jesus Tinoco, it soared toward the left field’s lower-level bleachers.

An unidentified male fan who was standing about 15 feet to Youmans’ right hopped over the rail, apparently strategizing that since the ball wasn’t coming to him, it might glance off of someone’s hands and fall to the ground between the outfield fence and stadium fence.

Instead, Youmans made a clean catch with his gloved right hand and raised both of his arms triumphantly, as fans around him erupted in cheers.

As security led Youmans to an undisclosed area of the stadium to get the ball authenticated by major league officials and perhaps meet with Yankees representatives, he told WFAA-TV when asked what he planned to do with the ball: “Good question. I haven’t thought about it.”

Meanwhile, the unidentified fan who jumped the rail was led out of the stadium by security, walking without a limp or any other sign of injury.

Now much focus will center on Youmans and whether he will keep the ball, sell it or barter with Judge and the Yankees. Even though Judge was removed from the game shortly after his home run, he said he did not meet with Youmans before Youmans left the stadium. Judge shook his head when asked whether he got the ball back.

“Not yet,” he said. “I don’t know where it’s at, so we’ll see what happens with that. It would be great to get it back. But, you know, that’s a souvenir for a fan. They made a great catch out there and they’ve got every right to it.”

For decades largely a hobby, sports memorabilia has in many respects morphed into a major business.

Two weeks ago, a California-based sports consignment company called Memory Lane Inc. placed a $2 million bounty on Judge’s 62nd home run.

Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, said he initially estimated the value of the No. 62 home run ball to be “high six figures.” Ivy said the bounty by Memory Lane Inc., though, “set the benchmark” for the No. 62 ball.

But what if Judge plays in Wednesday’s regular-season finale between the Rangers and Yankees and hits another home run, or multiple homers? Yankees manager Aaron Boone initially said after Tuesday’s game that Judge “earned himself a day off,” but then clarified that a decision won’t be made until he is able to talk to Judge.

“I think the last home run is the most expensive one,” Ivy said. “While 62 would be breaking Maris’ record, I think 63 or 64 would be comparable in price to 62, the one that broke the record.”

Major League Baseball recognizes the business side of memorabilia collecting and the potential of counterfeit items hitting the market.

Every MLB park has at least one designated authenticator. Most game-used items are authenticated with a hologram. Each hologram has its own number so that items can be cataloged.

Many items, including broken bats, routine-single-hit balls, bases and jerseys are regularly authenticated, with careful attention paid to chain of custody.

In the case of potentially historic items, as with Judge’s No. 62 home run ball and all game balls used during his at-bats this series, extra care is taken with a covert marking system.

Each ball carried two marks – an overt mark that the umpires and others on the field can clearly see as they are introduced into play in precise order – and a covert marking that can only be seen with proprietary MLB technology. That technology is only known to the authenticator.

Yankees manager Boone said the players couldn’t help but notice the special balls being switched into games during every Judge at-bat. It added to the pressure as the days mounted with Judge stuck at 61 home runs.

But when No. 62 finally came, all of that pressure and suspense resulted in a monumental release of emotion as the entire Yankees team rushed the field to greet Judge at home plate as he rounded third base.

“It was really amazing,” Boone said. “You never know how you’re going to react in the moment. It was just so very cool.

“I felt like a little kid. Because it wasn’t necessarily a no-doubter, but you thought he got it. You’re just kind of, mouth open, and then you see it go and you see the eruption of the dugout. . . It was special.”

Twitter: @townbrad

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