Modell’s Sporting Goods Inc. and its CEO honored Yankee fan Christian Lopez who unselfishly gave back to Derek Jeter the baseball representing the star MLB players 3,000th hit and asked for nothing but an autograph in return.

Mitchell Modell, chief executive officer of Modells Sporting Goods, gave the 23-year-old mobile-phone salesman his own personal 2009 Yankees World Series ring, which Modell told Sports Executive Weekly he received because his company was a major sponsor.  The ring is valued up to $40,000.

Heralding it “Christian Lopez Week,” Modell’s also pledged to donate 5 percent of its Yankees merchandise sales sold from July 13 through July 19, which the CEO said could net up to $40,000. The company pledged a minimum of $25,000. Lopez also received a 20 percent lifetime discount at Modells.

Modell was on vacation in Turkey during Saturdays game, in which Jeter went five-for-five and with a home run marking his 3,000 hit. Upon returning to New York, he read news accounts of Lopez and of his financial woes and sought to help.

“We wanted to do it because the real story was never told,” Modell told SEW. “Here’s a guy who put the team captain, the Yankees legacy in front of his own personal issues, which included owing over $100,000 in college loans. So he’s a true New Yorker in that all he wanted was an autograph.  We wanted to do the right thing by the guy and also celebrate the accomplishment.”

Modell’s partnered with memorabilia company Steiner Sports with both pledging Lopez $25,000 each. A press event held last Wednesday at the Modell’s Time Square store included both Modell and Brandon Steiner, CEO at Steiner Sports. “He’s going to get at least $50,000 from both of us,” said Modell.

The fan, who works in a Verizon store in Middletown, NY, had been praised by many for his generosity but also received a heap of ridicule for handing back the ball and asking for no compensation, especially when news of his heavy college loan debt came to light.  Some estimated the ball would have fetched as much as $400,000 if sold.  The Yankees repaid him by giving him four suite tickets for every remaining home game for both the regular season as well as memorabilia. However, Lopez again faced ridicule when reports claimed he would be facing up to $15,000 in taxes for the Yankee gifts.

Other companies also came to Lopez’s aid.  Miller High Life offered to cover the possible tax bill of Lopez.

“Miller High Life believes you should be rewarded for doing the right thing, not penalized,” Miller High Life brand manager Brendan Noonan said in a statement. “We want to recognize Christian Lopez, and in turn everyone like him, for doing the common sense thing and help him continue to live the High Life.”
>>> You cant buy the positive coverage Mitchell Modell and Modells received for his generosity and recognition of the Yankees fan.  There wasnt a morning news show that didnt feature the story, with many of the newscasters suggesting that if you want sporting goods, you Gotta Go to Mos…