Barry Bonds' 756th Home Run Ball
There are rare instances in which the sale of a piece of memorabilia to the highest bidder is perhaps the worst thing an athlete can ask for.
When Barry Bonds hit his 756th career home run on Aug. 7, 2007, it broke Hank Aaron's major league record just months before Bonds was indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice related to testimony about his use of performance enhancing drugs during the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative scandal. It also came after investigative journalists Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada released their book
Game Of Shadows
that alleged Bonds used a wide variety of steroids.
By the time that 756th home run ball went up for auction online, public opinion was not on Bonds' side. Fashion designer Marc Ecko won the auction and used an online poll to ask fans what to do with the ball. The overwhelming response was to emblazon it with an asterisk as a mark against Bonds' credibility. Ecko did just that and the ball was then loaned -- asterisk and all -- to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Say what you will about Ecko's use of his own money, but what he did was fair game once he bought the ball. Much as former Yankees pitcher David Wells bought a cap worn by Babe Ruth for $35,000 and wore it during a game in 1997 -- only to sell it for $537,000 last year. A memorabilia owner can preserve or defile their newfound possession in whatever manner he or she choses. If it's to send a message, so be it.