Letters: Lawyer Listeners respond to Melissa Block's interview with lawyer Norm Kent, who sued the Philadelphia Phillies on behalf of twelve-year-old Jennifer Valdivia. Block and Michele Norris read from listeners' e-mails.
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Letters: Lawyer

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Letters: Lawyer

Letters: Lawyer

Letters: Lawyer

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Listeners respond to Melissa Block's interview with lawyer Norm Kent, who sued the Philadelphia Phillies on behalf of twelve-year-old Jennifer Valdivia. Block and Michele Norris read from listeners' e-mails.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Time now for your letters.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And both our inbox and our Web site were hammered with your responses about my interview with Norm Kent. He's the lawyer who sued the Philadelphia Phillies on behalf of 12-year-old Jennifer Valdivia. She caught Phillies' star Ryan Howard's 200th home run back in July.

NORRIS: Within minutes, she was ushered to the team's clubhouse where representative swapped the historical ball for another one autographed by Howard. The lawyer says the ball rightfully belongs to Jennifer and that the Phillies took advantage of her. He sued, and the team gave Jennifer the ball back.

BLOCK: Well, during our conversation I asked a couple of times why Ryan Howard shouldn't get to keep his historical ball and things got a little heated.

Mr. NORM KENT (Lawyer): How many times do I need to say to you, Melissa, that value of the property they returned to her was not commensurate with the property or of comparable value with what she gave them?

BLOCK: So, it's all about the money, you think.

Mr. KENT: No, I think that it's about who had lawful ownership and rights to keep and retrieve that baseball.

BLOCK: Well, our listeners sided overwhelmingly with Mr. Kent. Bruce Levee(ph) of Nashville, Tennessee writes: I was totally shocked by the tone of Melissa Block's questioning of Norm Kent. While I'm not usually a fan of attorneys who jump up and sue, I actually had quite a bit of sympathy for this attorney after he was castigated by Ms. Block.

NORRIS: And listener Rick Evans(ph) posted this on our Web site. Now, let me get this straight. The Phillies sent out a couple of beefy security guys to take a little girl into custody in order to intimidate her into trading a valuable object of history for a cheap souvenir and Melissa is beating up on the lawyer? Hey, Melissa, this is the business of sports. Ask that guy, Stefan Fatsis.

BLOCK: Oh, Michele, funny he should mention that because, as you know, that guy Stefan Fatsis, our commentator on sports business, also happens to be my husband. So I think I know how to get him on the line. Stef?

STEFAN FATSIS: Hi.

BLOCK: Set us straight here. What is the practice on returning historic balls?

FATSIS: Well, we weren't at this game. We don't know how the transaction went down or how the Phillies responded afterward. Having said that, it does sound as if the Phillies did lowball Jennifer. They should've made sure that she met Ryan Howard. They should've given her a signed bat, a signed ball, some tickets, which is about the going rate for milestonish home runs. Some baseballs do wind up being worth a lot of money. Ryan Howard is a terrific slugger. He's on his way to a great career. But this is his 200th home run, not his 800th - the true value here is and it will be strictly personal.

And some fans recognize that. There have been some wonderful stories in the past of fans returning baseballs just for some memorabilia. One fan did it in Cincinnati for Ken Griffey Jr.'s 500th home run. Another did it for Jim Thome's 500th home run. And I got to say, while sports can be corrupted by memorabilia and money and a distorted sense of what is valuable, sports also can be about fairness and fun and the thrill of catching a big home run and of hitting one, too.

BLOCK: Stefan, thanks. See you later.

FATSIS: Bye.

BLOCK: That's our sports commentator Stefan Fatsis and my husband - all husbands considered. You can write to us by going to npr.org and clicking on Contact Us.

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