New York - The baseball hit by Barry Bonds to establish the glamour record of all sports -- the single season home run mark of 73 -- will be put up for auction by Lelands.com on Wednesday, June 25, bringing to a close one of the most closely followed legal entanglements in sports history.
The ball will be offered by the two claimants to ownership -- Patrick Hayashi and Alex Popov, who were ordered by a judge to proceed with a sale and divide the money.
The auction will be carried live on ESPN SportsCenter, from the ESPN Zone in New York, during the 6 p.m. EDT edition of its program on June 25.
A conservative and confidential reserve has been placed on the item, which is expected to attract bidders prepared to pay $1-$2 million.
The ball carries authentication from Major League Baseball, and has been housed in a safe deposit box in a Milpitas, CA bank since the ownership dispute arose.
The dispute over the ball arose when it was first caught by Alex Popov (pronounced "po-POVE"). Patrick Hayashi emerged with it after a "scrum" in the right field stands at Pacific Bell Park. Unable to resolve the ownership dispute, the parties found themselves in litigation, which was seemingly resolved last December 18, when Superior Court Judge Kevin McCarthy ruled a "split decision" -- that the ball must be sold and the proceeds divided equally. The trial lasted 14 days and featured 17 witnesses, but in the end the judge felt neither side had made a clearly superior claim to the other. The parties were given until December 30 to determine the ball's fate, but were unable to agree. Not until March 13 did they finally agree to an auction.
Popov and Hayashi buried their differences and hired Mike Barnes to act as an agent for finding an auction house. Barnes previously served that role for Mark McGwire's ball. The parties selected Lelands.com in early May.
The record breaking homer not only enabled Bonds to set the home run record, but established a major league slugging percentage record of .863, an on-base percentage of .515, tops in the National League since 1900, and was his 107th extra base hit of the year, tying the National League record. The home run gave Bonds one homer for every 6.52 at bats in 2001, and 15.34 for every 100 at bats, both major league records.
The home run came in the first inning of the final game of the 2001 season, October 7, on a full count knuckleball from the Dodgers' Dennis Springer, with the bases empty.
"Barry commented a while back, 'Why don't these guys come together and split the ball and its proceeds,' and we respected that opinion a lot and thought the best thing for baseball would be to move forward," said Hayashi.
"This is the first time in history where there have been two rightful owners," Popov said. "It's important that baseball history be accurate and read: Alex Popov and Patrick Hayashi caught the 73rd Barry Bonds ball."
"It's an honor for us to have this item, and to help bring an end to this long legal trail," noted Joshua Leland Evans, the founder and chairman of Lelands.com. "Mike Barnes was extremely helpful in the process, and we're naturally pleased to be the auction house of choice. And we're equally pleased that SportsCenter will carry the event live and let everyone in on history as it is made."
Lelands Auctions was founded in 1987 and is today one of the leading auction houses in America for both sports and entertainment/Americana items. Joshua Lelands Evans in founder and Chairman; Michael Heffner is the company's President. Lelands.com is based in Seaford, NY.