As New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter closes in on hit No. 3,000, there's a lot more at stake than just a mention in the baseball history books. Ticket prices for the Bronx Bombers have soared, and with every swing of the bat, there's more money to be made. Here are a few facts about The Captain's quest to be the 28th player to reach the magic number.
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Ticket Prices Are on the Rise
The Yankees never have a problem with filling their stadium. But milestone events have commanded big bucks. For instance, seats that cost $80 last week are going for $165 for this weekend's series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Not only that, available seats - which average about 20,000 before each home game - have dwindled to between 5,000-9,000 per game.
Do the math and we're talking about big money being tossed about to witness a piece of Yankees history in person. If and when Jeter hits the magic number, he will be the first-ever player in the storied pinstripe uniform to reach the milestone. (For related reading, see The Most Expensive Sports Tickets.)
How Much Per Hit?!
Jeter entered the 2011 season needing 74 hits to reach 3,000 and heading out of Thursday night's series opener against the Rays at Yankee Stadium, he is two hits shy of the mark. How does that break down into dollars and cents?
Since arriving on the major league scene in 1995, Jeter has earned about $205 million from the Yankees, the only team the 37-year-old has played on. Providing he does reach No. 3,000 - and it's highly likely he will - that comes to a little more than $68,000 per hit. (For related reading, see A History Of Baseball Economics.)
Ticket Buyers and Sellers
Sports enthusiasts are carefully watching the action. According to TiqIQ.com, a ticket sales analyst website, the average ticket price for Friday's game is nearly $195, a 103% increase from a week ago. Saturday and Sunday prices are expected to rise even higher.
Analysts also expect that potential buyers and sellers are planning to be on several ticket-buying websites during each Jeter at-bat (he's stepped to the plate 9,602 times so far), because instant action could lead to a bargain for a buyer or lead a seller to raise the price, depending on how Jeter does each time at the plate.
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And there's lots of rooting for and against Jeter hitting the 3,000 mark right away. Potential sellers of seats for Sunday's game, for instance, wouldn't want Jeter to reach the milestone any earlier, but they also would not want him to still be three hits away at that point for several reasons. For one, without him reaching the 3,000 mark by Sunday means a few days' wait due to next week's All-Star festivities (a hit then will not count).
Jeter may get both hits in Sunday's game. For reference, he has only posted four or more hits in 37 of his 2,360 careers games through Wednesday, roughly 1.6% of the time. (For related reading, see Top 7 Pro Athlete Contracts.)
Has this Happened Before?
Jeter's historic run is not the only time ticket prices have spiked for a single event. When owner George Steinbrenner died in July 2010, average ticket prices more than doubled for the following home game, according to FanSnap. And the last time a Yankees player was chasing history - third baseman Alex Rodriguez's quest for his 600th home run - prices also soared. In that case, though, the biggest rises were in sections where fans could hope to catch the landmark home-run ball, with prices ranging from $27 to $208.
The Bottom Line
Interestingly, Jeter's quest toward hit No. 3,000 would be unlikely to merit the same attention if he'd spent his career with another team. The Yankees play in the country's largest media market and their every move - on and off the field during the season and in the off-season - is covered almost daily. (For related reading, see For Athletes, Is There Life After Sports?)