Comic book mogul Todd McFarlane has added another piece of baseball history to his collection. McFarlane has bought Barry Bonds' record-setting 73rd home run ball at auction for $450,000. The sale resulted from a court battle between the two men who claimed to have caught the ball.
In 2001, Major League Baseball slugger Barry Bonds hit a single season record 73 home runs. His blast in San Francisco sailed into the outfield bleachers, which ignited a mad scramble for the ball. Video footage shows that Alex Popov had initially caught the ball. But he was immediatey engulfed in a mob of people trying to grab the record-setting baseball. Patrick Hayashi emerged from the pile, claiming he found the ball on the ground.
Both men said they were the rightful owners of the baseball. They went to court, where a judge ruled they had to sell the ball and split the profits. On Wednesday, the auction was held in New York.
Bidding by telephone was Todd McFarlane. His $450,000 bid was far less than the expected $1 million price, and much lower than the $3 million McFarlane paid for Mark McGwire's record-setting 70th home run ball in February 1999. He also owns Sammy Sosa's 66th home run ball, and says he was compelled to bid for the Barry Bonds ball.
"You know, it is tough to sit there and say you have got the second best ball. So it just continues the story now with the Sosa, the McGwire and the Bonds ball, that we have all three of those balls," he said. "I probably will make a quick call to the Hall of Fame and see if we can work out a deal with them and put them on display."
While McFarlane considers putting all three balls on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, Mr. Popov says he hopes the baseballs will again be shown across the United States as the first two were three years ago.
"I hope that it goes on tour to all the major cities and all the major ballparks," he said. "And maybe I'll see it come back my way in San Francisco." Mr. Hayashi says he and Alex Popov are now friends, and that they share an important part of baseball history.
"Once the decision was made, we took the lawyers out of the picture and we were able to communicate one on one. And we found a lot of similarities," he said. "So I think evertime the home run record comes up, we are going to be named. So that is something special I think." Both men will receive $225,000, less comission fees for the auction.