Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Body parts not allowed to be listed on eBay
By Darren Rovell ESPN.com
First came Diamondbacks slugger Luis Gonzalez's game-used gum, then A's ace Tim Hudson's goatee clippings and now ... Mariners reliever Jeff Nelson's bone chips?
Jeff Nelson has put up for bid the bone chips removed from his pitching elbow.
The fragments from the Seattle pitcher's elbow were put up for bid in a short-lived eBay auction Wednesday. It was eventually removed by eBay, which cited its policy against the peddling of body parts.
Nelson underwent surgery last Friday to remove the chips from his pitching elbow, and he said he placed the item at auction at the urging of Seattle sports talk radio show host Dave Mahler.
"I brought them around the clubhouse with me on Saturday and I said that I should put them on eBay and all the guys started laughing," Nelson told ESPN.com. "Then Dave said the same thing, so we decided to do it.
"It's kind of embarrassing that someone would want to buy something that came out of your elbow," he said.
But apparently there was interest. The opening bid was $250 and the price continued to climb until eBay stopped the bidding shortly after 4 p.m. ET.
In a span of one hour -- between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. -- there were 68 bids on the item, quickly pushing the price to $12,000. By 3:45 p.m., 109 bids had been made and the price reached $17,500. Fifteen minutes and 15 bids later, it topped out at $23,600.
"EBay does not allow the listing of body parts on its site," site spokesperson Kevin Pursglove said. "Once the item was spotted by our customer support team, the (auction) was ended."
Minutes after the item was removed by eBay, Nelson said he was unsure how the auction would continue.
"It was unbelievable how high it got," he said. "But I don't know what we are going to do now." Ironically, a clause was included in the auction description that stated the winning bidder could not "use (the) bone chips for cloning or DNA extraction purposes."
Mahler, whose eBay identification was used to hawk the bone chips, said he was considering his options and on Thursday decided to post the auction on the radio station's Web site.
Even though it's back at auction, one collectibles expert said the bone chips are little more than a novelty item.
"I think they're worthless," said Steve Grad, an authenticator for PSA/DNA. "People want to buy a Babe Ruth bat because there is history associated with it. I don't think anyone is going to buy Jeff Nelson bone chips so that they can pass it down to their grand kids. If they did pass it down, they'd say, 'Who the hell is Jeff Nelson?' "
Nelson had said the highest bidder would receive the chips in a container personalized to them. The money raised will be equally split between the Bear Creek School in Redmond, Wash., where Nelson's daughters go to school, and to the Curtis Williams Foundation, in memory of the paralyzed University of Washington football player who died on May 6.
"Someone like (renown sports orthopedist) Frank Jobe could make a lot of money saving these body parts from players and putting them on eBay," Nelson said before eBay removed the item. "Maybe one person can buy them all and collect a whole human."
Gonzalez's wad of gum sold for $10,000 in April, and clippings from Hudson's goatee went for $75 earlier this month. Both were sold on individual Web sites.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org