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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Phillies Lawsuit Ends with a Strikeout

The twelve-year-old who caught the ball used to score Ryan Howard’s 200th career home run ended up getting caught in a legal battle.

The Phillies first baseman scored his 200th career home run – in the shortest amount of time on record – last July when Philadelphia faced the Marlins in Florida.   Jennifer Valdivia caught the ball and was quickly escorted by a Phillies representative to the team’s dugout, where she was offered an autographed ball in exchange for Howard’s #200.  She and her 15-year-old brother initially agreed, but her parents later filed a lawsuit, claiming she was duped into exchanging a ball possibly worth thousands for one worth a few hundred.

Melissa Block, host of NPR’s All Things Considered, interviewed Fort Lauderdale attorney Norm Kent, who represented Jennifer Valdivia’s family.  She noted to that the public is largely unsympathetic to the girl, and one follower commented that it’s a great way to teach a 12-year-old how to extort money at an early age.  Mr. Kent countered that neither child was the age of majority.  An adult attempting to enter into a contract with a minor should have known better, and not resorted to bribing the 12-year-old with an autographed ball and cotton candy.

Howard eventually let the Valdivia family have the ball, ending the lawsuit.   Time will tell whether this milestone meant as much to Jennifer as it did to Ryan Howard, or if this is simply her first step in a career as a ball hawker. 

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