Top moments from Giants slugger Barry Bonds' record-breaking night
Finally, out of the chaos appeared a youngster named Matt Murphy, bearing a bloody face and clawed clothes, who had pocketed the historic ball. He may have wanted to save his effort for another day. After all, despite the fact Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s 33-year home-run record, that will not be the most valuable ball he will hit in his career.
No one is sure what the number will be — and perhaps only a crowd of 5,000 will be on hand — but the Giants outfielder’s last home run will end up being the priciest in the memorabilia market.
Consider: Mark McGwire’s final home run of the 1998 season, his 70th, is the highest-priced home-run ball in history, costing $3 million. His record-breaking 62nd was not the big catch that season.
In fact, according to SportsCollectorsDaily.com, three of the four most expensive home-run balls ever sold have been final swats by sluggers. Aside from McGwire, Henry Aaron’s 755th — which was simply picked up at the time by a member of the Milwaukee Brewers’ ground crew — eventually fetched $650,000.
Bonds’ 73rd and last home run in 2001 nabbed $450,000 (also in the pack is a Babe Ruth home run ball from the first All-Star Game in 1933, which went for $805,000).
The ball Bonds hit 435 feet Tuesday that generated the free-for-all in the AT&T Park bleachers is worth, on the high end, probably $500,000, memorabilia experts believe. But that final launch over the fence later this season or next should go for more.
Doug Allen, president of Mastro Auctions, a large sports auction house outside of Chicago, believes the last home run of Bonds’ career should bring in about $1 million.
“Ultimately, the ball that will sell the most will be the last one,” he said. “(Tuesday night) was the record-breaker for today. The record itself is the last one he hits.”
Of course, because of the steroid accusations that have dogged him, Bonds’ home run balls have lost quite a bit of value. His 70th home run ball from 2001 — which tied McGwire’s single-season mark set three years before — originally garnered $60,000. But it was resold this year for less than $15,000.
It’s hard to imagine what Babe Ruth’s last home run ball would bring on the open market. He swatted his 714th back in May of 1935, one of three homers he knocked out in Pittsburgh that day. No one knew at the time that 714 would be his final blast, and he had long ago surpassed all others as the career home run leader. And, since the Babe’s home runs occurred in the days before specially marked balls, anyone coming to an auction claiming to possess 714 would be greeted with withering skepticism.
The home-run ball market today, Allen warns, is quite a bit softer than it was about a decade ago during the magical season of 1998. He suggests that 22-year-old Murphy get what he can for it quickly. “You can’t hold it and watch it appreciate in value,” Allen said. “It’s exciting now. Two or three years from now, Bonds’ career will be over and the excitement is gone.”
So Murphy — who bought a game ticket that day during a layover in San Francisco before a trip to Australia — may want to consider this: sell that special ball for whatever the market will bear, then buy up all the bleacher seats — a la Charlie Sheen — in what appear to be the final games of Bonds’ career. Catching that last blast is the real prize.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.