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Bonds' 700th homer ball a hit in online auction

The baseball Barry Bonds hit for his landmark 700th home run landed the princely sum of $804,129 via auction on Overstock.com.

Major League Baseball may hand out Gold Glove awards to the league's finest fielders each season, but the $804,129 that fan Steve Williams landed in an online auction of Barry Bonds' 700th home run ball still looks pretty lustrous in comparison.

Williams' online auction of the leather orb on Overstock.com ended Wednesday, after 242 bids were made on the historical piece of playing equipment over the last 10 days. The winning bidder, an individual using the screen name "bomasterj," must now submit his or her payment to an escrow account controlled by Williams' lawyers, who will deliver the ball to the winning bidder. In hitting the blast, Bonds joined baseball legends Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron as the only players in Major League Baseball to ever crest the 700 homer plateau.

According to Overstock representatives, the Bonds ball fetched the highest price of any item ever auctioned via the site. The previous top-dollar sales were of several Rolex and Franck Muller watches that drew bids of $50,000 to $100,000, Overstock officials said.


Photo: Overstock.com
The little leather orb that represents
700 home runs, two lawsuits and, now,
many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Though the average salary of players on MLB teams' opening day rosters averaged just less than $2.5 million in 2004, conventional wisdom would dictate that there are plenty of professional ballplayers who wouldn't sneeze at an $800,000 bonus. By comparison, the ball Bonds hit to break baseball's single-season home run record in 2001 went for $450,000 at auction.

Wresting legal control of the valuable artifact was clearly a greater challenge for Williams than attracting collectors willing to offer serious money for the ball. After coming up with the treasure in a pig pile in the stands at SBC Park, the home stadium of Bond's San Francisco Giants, two other fans, Timothy Murphy and Alex Patino, filed separate lawsuits claiming that Williams stole the item from their hands. However, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge dismissed both men's claims.

A similar suit was filed after fans fought over the rights to Bonds' single-season record 73rd homer ball, and the judge in that case forced the two claimants to split proceeds of its sale.