- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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The Steve Bartman legend lives on.
The foul ball that ricocheted off the infamous Chicago Cubs fan and into the hands of the lawyer sitting behind him sold for $106,600 early Friday morning.
The final price not only surpassed the original price paid for the cursed ball that went through Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner's legs in the 1986 World Series -- first purchased by actor Charlie Sheen for $93,500 in 1992 -- but also eclipsed the amount paid earlier this month for a Mickey Mantle home run ball hit in the 1964 World Series ($106,000).
The ball was purchased by Grant DePorter, a friend of the late Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray and managing partner of Harry Caray's Restaurant Group in Chicago.
DePorter told ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" that the restaurant will display the ball and ask for customers to come up with the best way they can think of to destroy it.
DePorter has already planned the destruction date -- February 26, 2004 -- when the restaurant will lead its annual toast to Harry Caray. He said that Bartman, whose current place of residence is unknown, is invited to the destruction site.
"There will be no pardon on this ball," DePorter told Greenberg.
The bidding on the Bartman ball opened at $5,000 on Dec. 1 and closed 18 days and 37 bids later. Memorabilia experts told ESPN.com prior to the auction that they anticipated the ball would garner bids in the $10,000 range.
"It was one of those pieces that we weren't quite sure how it would perform," said Mark Theotikos, vice president of auction operations for MastroNet, an Illinois-based sports auction house that sold more than $5 million dollars worth of sports memorabilia in the auction. "This one had legs, and as long as the Cubs keep on losing this ball will be like the Billy Goat."
The original owner of the ball, who would identify himself only as Jim, signed an affidavit along with the three men sitting nearby stating his claim that this was indeed the so-called cursed ball.
The incident occurred when the Cubs were five outs away from winning Game 6 of the NL Championship Series and advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945. But after Bartman and other fans in the area tried to catch the foul ball, apparently hindering Cubs outfielder Moises Alou in his attempt to make a play, the Cubs unraveled. The Marlins scored eight runs and prevailed 8-3. Chicago then went on to lose the seventh and final game of the series.
Bartman will get no piece of the net proceeds from the auction.
Other items sold included the ball used by Emmitt Smith to set the NFL's all-time career rushing record ($58,000), a Ted Williams Red Sox home flannel jersey from 1960 ($50,000) and a blanket worn by Seabiscuit ($41,515).
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.Rovell@espn3.com.
3hAdam Lewis, Special to ESPN.com