First Pitch: Christian Lopez's big decision

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
6:00
AM ET
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesWould Christian Lopez change anything about last year's DJ-3K exchange? Nope.
It has been a year and a day since Christian Lopez caught Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit. Lopez made the decision to just give Jeter the ball instead of holding out for potentially millions.

The Decision will be debated forever. What would you do? Well, Lopez, now 24, with a new life, would not do anything different.

"I get a lot of respect," Lopez said on the phone Monday. "Even if people don't agree with the decision, they respect it."

Lopez said that day now defines his life. A little more than a month after he caught the ball, he left his job with Verizon Wireless to become a community ambassador for Modell Sporting Goods. To celebrate the one-year anniversary on Monday, Lopez met with Little Leaguers at Modell's Time Square store.

With Lopez's new job, he and his girlfriend Tara Johnson -- who got him the tickets for DJ-3K game -- have moved into the city together. Now, everyone is teasing him about maybe getting Tara a ring soon.

Lopez isn't sweating missing out on the money. He speaks to children about how life works out when you do the correct thing.

"Kids can make the right decision," Lopez said about his message.

He loves his job at Modell's and thinks if he wanted to try to talk to Jeter again he could. The two have not spoken since Lopez gave Jeter the ball and the Yankees set Lopez up with season tickets for the rest of the year.

"He's a busy guy," Lopez said. "He's Derek Jeter, you know."

This year, Lopez bought his own season tickets and, better yet, feels like he is a part of Yankee history.

"It is something that is going to be there forever," Lopez said. "When you are talking Yankee history, you are talking legends. Just to be in Yankee history, it is an honor."

It is something you can't buy.

UP NOW: Reggie Jackson is in timeout and he needs the Yankees more than they need him.

ON DECK: The All-Star Game from Kansas City. Jeter leads off, Robinson Cano bats second and Curtis Granderson hits ninth. The only other time the Yankees have had the first two batters in the AL All-Star lineup was 1987 (Rickey Henderson and Don Mattingly).

IN THE HOLE: We will be on the blog all day. Matt Ehalt will have his Tuesday feature, The Cash Register. So check back.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What would you have done with the DJ-3K ball?
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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Hiroki Kuroda
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