Written by Daniel Paulling
Published: 28 September 2007
It was a novel idea presented by Marc Ecko. Ecko, the creator of the *ecko unltd. line of clothing, decided to put the fate of Barry Bonds’ 756th home run ball, which set the new all-time home run record, in the hands of the voting public. They decided to brand the baseball with an asterisk and send it to the Hall of Fame.
The asterisk is a symbol of Bonds’ presumed steroid usage. He has never admitted to knowingly using performance enhancing substances, but leaked grand jury testimony reveals that Bonds said he unknowingly abused them. Furthermore, there have also been multiple questions concerning Barry Bonds’ personal trainer, Greg Anderson, and Victor Conte, who Bonds allegedly received performance enhancing substances from.
Ecko won the bidding on Sept. 15 by paying more than $750,000. Estimates done by auction houses placed the value of the ball as high as $600,000. The highest price ever paid for a historic home run ball was the $3 million dished out by Todd McFarlane for Mark McGwire’s 70th home run in 1998. The disproportion in price can be attributed to Bonds’ presumed steroid usage and fans’ beliefs of Bonds as a surly, selfish player.
Other options for the ball’s fate were sending it to the Hall of Fame unblemished and shooting it into space. The former received 34% of the more than 10 million votes, while the latter received 19%. Sending the ball with an asterisk garnered 47% of the votes.
Ecko’s idea was not well received by Bonds. The new home run king called Ecko “an idiot.”
Matt Murphy, a 21-year-old college student who caught the ball during a layover in San Francisco, sold it after realizing he would not be able to afford the ensuing taxes for keeping it. His desire was to send the ball to the Hall of Fame without any sort of branding. Ecko wanted to place as asterisk on it.
Ben Padnos purchased Bonds’ 755th home run ball, the one that tied Bonds with Hank Aaron for most career home runs, for $186,750. He is allowing fans to decide whether to save the baseball or destroy it at his website endthedebate.com. The website does not have any information as to when it will release its results.
The home run ball that might receive the most interest in the future is the last one Bonds hits this season. Bonds’ current team, the San Francisco Giants, revealed they will not bring back their slugger next season, and he received little to no interest from other teams when a free agent last offseason. Bonds wants to play one more season, but 2007 may be his last.
The Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, NY, previously said they would display the ball, even with an asterisk on it. That is still the case.
“We’re happy to get it,” said Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey in an interview with the Associated Press. “We’re a nonprofit history museum, so this ball wouldn’t be coming to Cooperstown without Marc Ecko buying it from the fan who caught it.”