Steven Williams, a 26-year-old mortgage broker's assistant from Pacifica, Calif., will let anyone with an Internet connection bid on the ball that put Bonds into the 700 club of elite sluggers. The auction will not be hosted by eBay, the world's largest online auction service, but instead by Salt Lake City-based Overstock.com, a Web retailer of surplus goods.
"I liked the idea, because it's the most democratic form," Daniel Horowitz, an attorney representing Williams, said in reference to choosing an online auction. "Everybody can bid on it. Everyone can follow it. If you send it to an auction house in New York, you get a bunch of faceless rich people, and it's not the same."
The auction is set to begin Oct. 18 and to end on Oct. 27. If Williams gets an offer that exceeds $200,000, he plans to donate 10 percent of the takings to charity, Horowitz said.
However, the auction will take place against a backdrop of controversy. On Sept. 17, when Bonds blasted his 700th homer into the stands, fans clawed and scrambled for the ball. Williams arose victorious, claiming he found the ball sitting at the bottom of the pile and simply scooped it up.
But another fan named Thomas Murphy filed a lawsuit alleging Williams swiped the ball out of his lap. Despite attempts to block the sale, Williams is going ahead with the auction.
Overstock is embracing all the publicity surrounding the ball. The Web retailer, which launched its auction service on Sept. 24, hopes the chatter surrounding the sale will bring new customers to the service, a representative said.
Horowitz, who approached Overstock, said the company plans to market the auction through advertising and other promotions.