The Dodgers couldn't even avoid drama with Shohei Ohtani's first HR ball

The Dodgers couldn't even avoid drama with Shohei Ohtani's first HR ball

There is a well-established process when a fan hits a milestone home run, such as Shohei Ohtani's first homer with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The ball legally belongs to the fan, who is quickly escorted from his seat so team officials can talk to them and find out what it would take for the fan to give up the ball. Sometimes, all it takes is a little autographed memorabilia; Other times, cold hard cash. Most importantly, the fan has the right to take the ball and go home.

The practice goes back decades, but the Dodgers couldn't avoid unnecessary drama when it happened with Ohtani's homer on Thursday.

The fan who caught Ohtani's ball at home is married and lifelong Dodgers fan named Ambar Roman, and she and her husband weren't too happy while… Talk to the athlete About how the Dodgers treated them after the ball ended up in her hands.

As Roman tells the story, she was escorted from the stands, separated from her husband and pressured to give up the ball for nothing. I eventually traded the ball for two signed hats, a signed ball and a signed bat. An auction house told The Athletic that the ball would be worth at least $100,000.

As Roman's husband, Alexis Valenzuela, said:

“They really took advantage of it,” Valenzuela said. “There was a group of (security) men around her. They wouldn't let me talk to her or give her any advice. There was no way for us to leave. They pretty much boxed her in the back.

The Dodgers allegedly threatened to refuse to authenticate the ball if Roman decided to take it home, which would have rendered the ball effectively worthless and deprived her of her ability to sell it later. Of course, it also meant the Dodgers had to explain to their $700 million player that he didn't get his first ball in the Dodgers because they didn't want to part with a few thousand dollars, for example.

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LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 03: Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) runs through the dugout after the game between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Peter Gonnelett/Ikon Sportswire via Getty Images)

How did Shohei Ohtani's first home run become a bad story for the Dodgers? (Photo by Peter Gonnelett/Ikon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This process usually ends with the fan meeting the player, but even that becomes a point of contention. Roman and Valenzuela told The Athletic they had never met Ohtani, despite his claims to the contrary after the game:

“I was able to talk to the fan and get him back,” Ohtani said through translator Will Ireton. “It's obviously a very special ball, there's a lot of emotion about it, and I'm very grateful to have it back.”

The Dodgers reportedly declined to address Roman and Valenzuela's complaints beyond a statement saying they were “open to further conversation.”

Since Ohtani's desire to tell the truth is already a key part of one of the biggest stories of the season, him falling for an obvious lie over something as trivial as meeting a fan can't be ignored.

All in all, this was a strange and completely avoidable story for the Dodgers in a year in which they already have enough strange and completely avoidable stories. It is also an important reminder for fans to know their rights if they receive a meaningful ball. Teams may threaten to not check the ball, but you have to remember that it will cost them too.

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