Disputed ball from milestone goes for $804,129

Updated: October 27, 2004, 9:39 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants slugger Barry Bonds' 700th home run blast netted a top bid of $804,129 Wednesday after a 10-day online auction.

Bonds goes silent
ST. LOUIS -- Barry Bonds attended Game 4 of the World Series on Wednesday but refused to answer questions about a report that a tape recording alleges he used performance-enhancing drugs last year.

After receiving an award from commissioner Bud Selig and Hank Aaron, Bonds silently walked away as a reporter asked questions. According to The Associated Press, ESPN's Harold Reynolds, the emcee for the presentation, would not entertain questions and attempted to block a reporter from following Bonds when the San Francisco Giants outfielder walked away after the presentation.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Oct. 16 that it obtained from an anonymous source a 9-minute recording it said was of Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, one of four people charged in a steroid scandal involving a Bay area nutritional supplements firm.

The speaker on the tape is heard saying Bonds used an "undetectable" performance-enhancing drug during the 2003 season and boasting that he would be tipped off up to two weeks before random drug testing, the newspaper said. Bonds has denied taking steroids.

The historic baseball had received 240 offers by the time Overstock.com closed the bidding. The identity of the 700th homer's new owner, a bidder nicknamed "bomasterj," was not immediately made public.

Holly MacDonald, vice president of auctions at Overstock.com, said the site's policy is to verify the highest bidder has the means and intention to make the purchase before declaring a winner.

Steve Williams got the ball after a scramble in the left-center field bleachers at SBC Park on Sept. 17 -- a mad dash that has enriched his pocketbook but also landed him in court. Timothy Murphy has sued Williams, saying he should get the ball because he had it locked behind his knees while at the bottom of a scrum before Williams swiped it.

A judge refused to hold up the sale, freeing Williams to sell the ball. Attorneys for Murphy said they are continuing with their suit and are seeking the proceeds from the ball's sale as damages.

Reached by phone Wednesday after the winning bid was announced, Williams said that he'll quit his job as a broker's assistant in San Mateo but that he has no idea what he'll do with the money.

His lawyer, Daniel Horowitz, speculated the ball's price will prompt more people to try to claim ownership.

"All of the roaches are going to try to hang on to Mom's apple pie, and we're going to squash them," Horowitz said.

Bonds, who became the first member of the 700-homer club in 31 years, has 703 career home runs, trailing only Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755).

In October 2001, Bonds' record-setting 73rd homer of the season sparked litigation that ended when a judge ordered two men who claimed ownership to split the $450,000 the ball fetched. That ball might have fetched more, but it didn't get sold until a year after the homer because a judge ordered it to remain under lock and key until the litigation ended.

Doug Allen, president of Mastronet.com, an online sports auction site, said Wednesday's auction price was "incredible" for Bonds' 700th homer. He valued it in the $100,000 range on grounds that Bonds likely will break Ruth's and Aaron's records as early as next season, making those balls more valuable.

"It's an incredible collectible, but that's even more of an incredible price," Allen said.

Comic book icon Todd McFarlane paid $3.2 million for Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball, a 1998 blast that broke a single-season home-run record that had stood for 40 years.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press