It’s not going into space and it won’t be destroyed. The man who bought it says the public’s vote was to put a permanent marker on Barry Bonds’ 756th home run ball, then donate it to the Hall of Fame.
The public has spoken and with over 10 million votes received, Barry Bonds’ 756th home run ball is heading to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, marked with an asterisk as a permanent footnote to the homerun record.
Fashion designer and hip hop mogul Marc Ecko bought the ball for $752,467 in a sale held by SCP Auctions. For the next eight days, the country was encouraged to publicly debate the ball’s fate by visiting vote756.com and choose to: (a) Bestow it intact to Cooperstown, (b) Permanently brand the ball with an asterisk before sending it to Cooperstown, or (c) launch it into space.
Ecko unveiled the results of the voting live on NBC’s "Today" show, with 47 percent voting to add the asterisk; 34 percent to give it to the Hall of Fame intact; and 19 percent to send it into space. Combined, over 80 percent of voters believed the ball should go to Cooperstown, and over two- thirds felt that doubts surrounding the record needed to be recognized.
"The fans have spoken and the asterisk will forever be part of the history of this ball," Ecko said. "It is a reflection of fans’ sentiments and will be preserved by the Hall of Fame in this manner. This was never about the record. I saw the purchase of the ball as an opportunity to open a national conversation using new media – the internet, blogs, videos – to allow America’s oldest sport to have America’s most modern conversation. The people should be the arbiters of what is historically significant about this artifact. The opportunities for expression, and our participation in the public square, are endless."
"Since the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum first opened in 1939, the generosity of players, teams and fans, like Marc Ecko, has made it possible to preserve baseball history in Cooperstown. Every one of the nearly 35,000 artifacts in our collection has been donated," said Dale Petroskey, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
"We’re grateful to Marc for donating this baseball, which represents one of the game’s most historic records. Baseball belongs to the fans — it always has and always will. The asterisk represents the voice of the fans at this moment in time. The level of interest reflects the strong bond between baseball and American culture. Our responsibility as a history museum is to present every story in proper context, and this ball allows us to do that."
Ecko said he was glad the vote was not to destroy the controversial piece of sports memorabilia.
"We are gratified to have the Hall of Fame’s support in this effort. Its curatorial staff is working with us to carry out the popular vote while preserving the ball. Being in the Hall of Fame will ensure that future generations can read about, reflect on and keep the discourse of this moment alive."
The public is also voting on Bonds’ 755th home run ball, with only two choices offered at endthedebate.com; save it or "smash it". Currently, those preferring to destroy the ball are winning handily.
The Hall of Fame’s Jeff Idelson talks about the ball with ESPN’s Mike & Mike: