When Barry Bonds was closing in on Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, one of the most frequent discussion topics among those in the memorabilia market centered around the value of the 756th home run baseball. While there was a variety of opinions about how much the record-setting ball would be worth, the consensus among everyone who offered an opinion was that the baseball Bonds hit for his final career home run would ultimately be more valuable – perhaps worth as much as $1 million – because it would represent the all-time home run record.
When the 756th home run ball sold for $752,000 in September, it generated plenty of national media attention. What has generated little attention is the whereabouts of what, for the time being, is Bonds’ final home run baseball. Bonds hit his final home run of the season on Sept. 5 at Colorado. That was his 762nd career home run. But to date, no one has stepped forward as the documented owner of that ball.
Of course, most people don’t expect that will be his final career home run. Bonds intends to play again next season. But he’s a free agent who has the shadow of a possible federal indictment for perjury hanging over him. Teams may wait to sign Bonds until that issue is resolved. If an indictment were handed down, he would face a possible suspension.
That’s why it may not be completely absurd to think Bonds’ career home run mark will stand at 762. And if it does, someone who attended that Giants-Rockies game on Sept. 5 is the owner of a significant piece of baseball history.
Various newspaper accounts from the day after the game make no mention of who caught the ball. An archived replay of the home run on MLB.com shows the home run barely made it into the left-center field bleachers at Coors Field. A fan with a glove who made an attempt to catch the ball had it bounce off the heel of his glove and another fan attempted to grab the ball. Ultimately, these two fans got into a tug of war, but before a winner emerged, the cameras cut away from the tussle, making it hard for either to use the game broadcast as proof they emerged with the ball.
Members of the Rockies’ public relations staff said they did not make an effort to identify the fan who caught the ball.
Major League Baseball had specially marked balls put into play as Bonds approached his 756th home run. However, a representative for MLB said that because of security concerns, the league would not confirm if covert markings were placed on the ball. If the ball wasn’t marked, it would again make it difficult for the fan who caught the ball to document the authenticity of the ball and cash in on its million-dollar potential.