NEW YORK — The 12-year-old fan who retrieved Alex Rodriguez's record 24th career grand slam ball from the stands at Yankee Stadium says he gave it back because he felt the slugger had "worked hard" for the feat and deserved it.

Steven Gieseler Jr., of East Islip, scooped the ball from beneath a seat as Rodriguez rounded the bases in a game against the Giants on Sept. 20.

The slam allowed Rodriguez to break a record held by Steven's all-time favorite Yankee, Lou Gehrig.

But the middle schooler told Newsday () that when a security official approached him and said Rodriguez wanted the ball, he had no problem turning it over. http://bit.ly/1bgfp48

"It's the player's accomplishment," the boy said. "He deserves to get it back. He worked hard for it."

After the game, Steven and his father were escorted into a private room where they met with Rodriguez, who gave him an autographed bat and ball, and asked him whether he had been to the stadium before or played baseball.

"He said, "Hey buddy, nice catch," but I just stood there in awe," Steven said.

The boy's mother, Tina Gieseler, said her son has a big heart.

"We've always taught our kids that people work their whole lives for something like this," she said.

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Information from: Newsday, http://www.newsday.com

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