Southern California exotic auto dealer plunks down $220,100 in eBay auction.
No records were set, but Andrew Morbitzer’s trip to the concession stand was profitable enough.
The baseball that flew into his hands earlier this season as he waited to buy beer and peanuts was the 715th home run of Barry Bonds’ career. The 10-day eBay auction for the ball ended Thursday afternoon with a final bid of $220,100.
The winning bidder is 44 year-old Marc Chase, an eBay member since 1999 and owner of Symbolic Auto Group, an authorized dealer of exotic cars in California and Las Vegas.
“I saw the ball on eBay’s home page after the auction started and seeing that Willie Mays (Bonds’ godfather) is one of my heroes, it seemed a natural fit,” Chase told SportsCollectorsDaily.com on Thursday evening. “I collected all of Mays’ cards and then thought about the connection between he and Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and now, Barry Bonds. I’m don’t care about the controversy. Barry broke the record and I think this a great piece of baseball history.”
Bidding jumped by over $68,000 between early Thursday morning and the 12 PM Pacific time close. In all, 69 bids were recorded, all from potential buyers who had been pre-screened by eBay.
The auction close ended a publicity blitz that began in New York with the announcement of the auction. Last week at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Anaheim, CA, Morbitzer did about as many interviews as some of the well-known athletes who were signing autographs behind him.
During the final hour of the listing, 20 bids were placed, jumping the
price of the ball by nearly 45 percent. Chase placed the winning bid
with just under four minutes left.
“I was nervous at first and then a little surprised when I won,” Chase recalled. “The other guy I was bidding against went past me and I then came back and placed a bid at $225,000. He came up to about $220,000 and then he stopped so I won it at just over that. When the auction ended I was totally happy. I didn’t think I would get it this cheap. The other historic home run balls have sold for much more.”
Bonds’ 700th home run ball, sold in the fall of 2004 went for $804,129. Three years ago, the ball Bonds hit for his single season record-breaking 73rd homer (hit in in 2001) closed at $450,000.
According to eBay, there were more than 665,000 visits to the 715 home run ball description page – a rate of nearly 48 visits per minute. It was the most watched item on eBay over the last 10 days with more than 25,000 people tracking it on their My eBay pages.
Chase counts several pro athletes as friends, having sold Ferrari, Mazzeratti, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and other expensive cars to some of them. “I’ve got tons of signed jerseys, balls and helmets I’ve bought for a few thousand dollars over the years but this was kind of a spur of the moment thing and by far the most I’ve ever spent for anything like this.”
The ball will be delivered to Chase in a special presentation at one of his dealerships and he says the ball will be on a rotating display at his stores for the forseeable future.
The sellers have committed 10 percent of the ball sale proceeds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
“The decision to sell this piece of history was a big one for us, but
ultimately, we are happy with the ending price we received today,” said
Andrew Morbitzer. “It’s been a chance of a lifetime, a lot of fun and we feel putting it on eBay allowed a lot of people to participate, either
through bidding or watching. We’re also very excited to help Big
Brothers Big Sisters of America through our donation.”
eBay set up a special web site devoted to the auction, which includes video of the game and Morbitzer’s story of how it was caught.
Morbitzer had thought about keeping the ball but reality then set in and he and his wife decided they will use the auction proceeds to put a down payment on a home in the ultra-expensive Bay Area and pay off the couple’s wedding debts.