Most experts agree the ball Barry Bonds belts to break the career home run record won’t be worth $1 million.
One auction company struck first in what could be a moderate bidding war for #756, but the offer could be aimed more at the resulting publicity than the actual value of the ball.
Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries is offering to pay $1 million to purchase the baseball that Bonds is expected to hit sometime in the coming weeks to establish a new career record. But others in the industry say the true value of the ball is much less.
"At the end of the day, it’s just a new piece of memorabilia, and there’s not a hysteria around baseball like a few years ago," says SCP Auctions’ David Kohler in a story by Associated Press reporter Rachel Konrad.
Spawn comic book artist and action figure-maker Todd McFarlane helped push the prices of historic home run balls strikingly higher with his purchase of Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball for $3 million. In what might be the best illustration of steroid-era innocence, the ball became little more than a footnote when Bonds broke McGwire’s record and pushed the mark to 73 just a couple of years later. Undaunted, McFarlane paid $500,000 for the Bonds ball.
McFarlane also has an exclusive deal with Bonds. He has a new Bonds figure that will be released after Aaron’s record is broken. A limited-edition version will be sold at the All-Star Game in San Francisco.
"The sports auction business is difficult to predict, but it is fair to assume  will carry the same Bonds’ 50% discount [now] afforded other historic Bonds’ memorabilia," Doug Drotman, industry consultant, told BrandWeek.com. Without the shadow of steroids, he said No. 756 "would have had the potential to challenge in value McGwire’s 70th home run baseball. So figure half that."
Bonds’ 715th home run ball, the one that placed him past Babe Ruth and into second on the all-time list sold for $220,100 in an eBay auction.
Last summer, Babe Ruth’s 1933 All Star game home run ball sold for $800,000 in a Hunt Auctions sale prior to the ’06 game.
Given the reward and the fairly common knowledge that such historic homers are now worth money, an ugly scene could play out in the stands whenever the moment arrives.
"A certain degree of chaos in the stands was a foregone conclusion long
before our bounty was announced," Heritage auction director Chris Ivy told SportsCollectorsDaily.com. "’m sure that Major League Baseball will see to it
that the stands will be heavily patrolled by security personnel when the time comes, any chaos will be held to a minimum. So while I sincerely hope that the retrieval of the ball will be a peaceful affair, I wouldn’t feel responsible if it wasn’t."
Offering the reward or the option to sell the ball at auction conjures up the sort of scenario that plays out on a popular TV show hosted by Howie Mandel. Sell the ball outright or take your chances in a highly publicized auction?
"It’s very much like Deal or No Deal," Ivy said. "Except I have a full head of hair and there will be no models with briefcases."
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