Maybe it was his love of the game that made a 20-year-old fan give back Aaron Judge’s 60th home run ball. Or maybe it was that he’s only 20 years old.

I mean look, fans are allowed to keep balls. Period. That this ball is expected to be worth as much as $500,000 is not lost on the Yankees organization. And if he gets a 61st to tie Roger Maris that will be worth more. A number 62? A whole lot more.

The New York Yankees knew what this young guy was giving back. What did they do for him? Not nearly enough. A couple of signed balls and a bat. And a couple of photos with Judge. That’s it. And that’s sad. They used the kid. And they know it.

The kid is Mike Kessler. He came to the game with three friends on a last-minute whim.

As far as that moment?

“It bounced off someone’s hand. I reached and grabbed it and just bear-hugged it,” Kessler told The New York Post “I just smothered it. It got off to the side. It was a mad pile.”

So why give it back? Maybe it’s because he’s from Port Chester, New York. Maybe they do these nice, quaint aww shucks Mister things in places like that. I mean just take a look at how sincere he is.

Now that’s a fan. Shucks.

But you can still be a fan and look out for your own interest as Tony Soprano might have said. A Jersey fan never would have let that ball go without a price. We’re too smart here. Too worldly. Too cynical.

A New Jersey guy catching that ball would’ve gone something like this:

Yankees: Hi young man, follow us we’ll keep you safe.

Jersey guy: There are people, important people, who know where I am. Just sayin’.

Yankees: Right this way sir. Can we get you a bottle of water or anything?

Jersey guy: You’re funny pal.

Yankees: What would you like to do with the ball? Any thoughts?

Jersey guy: Oh, I bet youse guys got lotsa thoughts, huh? Me give you this half-million-dollar ball and you give me what, a couple signed balls some merch and show me the door? Yeah, ain’t happenin’ bro.

Yankees: OK, what do you want for the ball?

Jersey guy: First I ain’t even talking to you. Only Judge. Get him up here.

5 minutes later.

Judge: OK, what do you want for the ball?

Jersey guy: First, say please.

Judge: Really?

Jersey guy: (heads for door with ball) Good luck in October, gentlemen.

Yankees: Wait wait.

Judge: Please!

Jersey guy: That’s more like it. Next, you can take these signed balls and that signed bat and give them to the kids leaving the cheap seats. Do it!

Yankees: Just do it. Go.

Judge: What else?

Jersey guy: Season tickets would be nice.

Yankees: Son, you know there are a lot of people on waiting lists for —

Judge: Done! Now can I have the ball?

Jersey guy: Whoa, Aaron, relax. You’re too eager, man. You just showed me I can keep going. So season tickets and $50,000.

Judge: Done.

Jersey guy: No, not done. I’ll tell you if we’re done. We’re just getting started.

Judge: Go on.

Jersey guy: I want Samantha.

Judge: You moth-

Yankees: That’s his wife!

Jersey guy: She got a sister?

Judge: Can you guys give him Giancarlo’s girl?

Yankee: We’ll try.

Jersey guy: One other thing. I’d like a contract:

Yankees: A…contract?

Jersey guy: Yeah, you know, like I’m a Yankee but not really. $100,000 a year for a two-year deal. But like a no-show kinda contract like a nepotism union deal, you know, Jersey style. Or like Bobby Bonilla.

(Yankees and Judge huddle)

Yankee: You have a deal.

Jersey guy: (shaking hands) And you have a ball…in two years.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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