Auction house withdraws $1M bounty on No. 756

Updated: June 12, 2007, 8:47 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A prominent auction house has withdrawn its $1 million offer on Barry Bonds' career-record home run baseball citing its concerns over the possiblity of a melee in the stands.

Bonds is approaching Hank Aaron's home run record this season, and sports memorabilia experts have speculated that the San Francisco Giants slugger's 756th homer ball would command six figures at auction. Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries upped the ante last month, offering $1 million to purchase the ball.

We didn't hear of any way to prevent possible public safety problems, and we don't want a fan or a child injured or killed.

Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auction Galleries

But after a Heritage auctioneer met with a security official at AT&T Park, the company rescinded the offer.

"We didn't hear of any way to prevent possible public safety problems, and we don't want a fan or a child injured or killed," said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auction Galleries, the world's largest collectibles auction house which last year auctioned Babe Ruth's 1933 All-Star jersey for $657,250.

The Giants on Monday defended their security plan, and said they never provided a copy of it to Heritage.

"The bottom line, and we are very experienced on this issue, is we always have a very comprehensive security plan that will be in place as Barry gets closer to the record," Giants spokesperson Staci Slaughter said. "We have met and continue to meet with the San Francisco Police Department. Safety is always our No. 1 concern.

"This guy just showed up one day at the ballpark with no phone call in advance and asked to talk to our security person, insisting that we give him a copy of our security plan. We never give out a copy of our security plan. It's inappropriate. We'll make sure our fans are safe."

The highest price ever paid for baseball memorabilia was set in 1999 when comic artist Todd McFarlane snagged Mark McGwire's record single-season home run ball for $3 million.

Baseball memorabilia prices have stagnated or declined since the start of a widespread federal inquiry into steroid use in 2003. The investigation has put intense scrutiny on Bonds, who reportedly told a 2003 federal grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

Sports memorabilia collectors say Bonds' involvement in the scandal has depressed prices that his items command at auctions.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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