After two weeks of drama, Alex Rodriguez finally has his 3,000th hit ball.
Baseball collector Zack Hample, who caught the milestone home run ball on June 19, returned it to Rodriguez Friday during a news conference at Yankee Stadium. In exchange, the Yankees made a $150,000 donation to Pitch In For Baseball, an organization that provides baseball and softball equipment to communities in need.
Hample works with the charity. A-Rod presented him with a signed jersey and bat.
"I'm very proud of us doing the right thing in this situation and I'm especially happy to have the ball back and to share it with my girls," Rodriguez said. "That's going to be pretty awesome."
Hample, 37, who said he has caught more than 8,000 balls during games and batting practice, said, "To be connected to this amazing, historical moment is really more than I could imagine."
He said he regretted saying "a couple of stupid things, negative things, on Twitter" about A-Rod, to which Rodriguez said, "I have a PhD in saying dumb things over the years."
Hample thanked the Yankees "for handling this whole thing so well. I've had people ask me, 'Did they bully you; did they pressure you; were they mean; did they try to take the ball away?' And it wasn't like that at all."
He added that he "almost wanted them to be rude because it would have justified my initial decision to keep the ball, which was really my intention from the start. I didn't know if I was going to sell it, give it to the Hall of Fame, maybe do something with charity. But really, giving it back to the Yankees would probably have been pretty low down on my list."
There could be one more dispute over the ball . . .
"My daughters land tonight, here in New York," A-Rod said. "They can fight over whose room it goes in."