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Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Proceeds to be split between Popov, Hayashi

By Darren Rovell

Alex Popov and Patrick Hayashi haven't agreed on much since the two claimed sole ownership of Barry Bonds' record-setting 73rd home run ball.

But on Wednesday -- more than 16 months after Popov momentarily gloved the ball and Hayashi emerged from the scrum with the valuable collectible  the two decided on a firm that would market the ball, whose proceeds would be equally split between the two.

On December 18, after a highly publicized trial that involved videotaped evidence of the scramble for the ball, superior court judge Kevin McCarthy ruled that both men had equal and legitimate claims to the ball. But McCarthy's ruling that the two should sell the ball and split the profits took nearly three months to organize.

"There has been a lot of ups and downs but this story is now going to have a positive ending," said Hayashi, who said he faxed a signed agreement from San Diego, where he now lives. "After the decision, both of us had a chance to appeal, but we ultimately thought this was the right way to go."

"At the time, we probably didn't give Judge McCarthy his due credit, but if he awarded the ball to either one of us instead of both, one of us likely would have appealed and it would have continued to drag things out," Popov said.

Popov and Hayashi have hired Michael Barnes of Barnes Sports Group, which brokered deals for many of the owners of the record-breaking Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run balls from the 1998 season.

"This ball is more well-known than McGwire's 70th, given that it topped the record and due to the events that followed," Barnes said.

Barnes said he will seek a private buyer as well as explore the possibility of selling the ball in an auction setting. "I honestly have no clue how much this ball will sell for," Barnes said.

In the hours after the catch, memorabilia analysts  who had watched Spawn creator Todd McFarlane pay $3 million for McGwire's 70th in January 1999 -- tabbed the ball's value at around $1.5 million. But not all agree that the price for Bonds' No. 73 -- which is still locked up in a bank vault -- will safely reach seven figures.

"I think it will sell in the $150,000 to $200,000 range," said Steve Grad of PSA/DNA, a collectibles authentication company. "Not many people care about Barry Bonds and we'll never see bids like McFarlane's in this market."

Bonds' 600th home run ball sold in December for $40,000.

"It's still the most coveted record in baseball, Barry Bonds will go down as one of the best to play the game and I believe this record will never be broken," said Doug Allen, president of MastroNet, the world's largest sports collectibles auction house. "Based on that, it wouldn't surprise me if this ball sold for over $1 million."

McFarlane, who contends he's received millions of dollars in publicity for his McFarlane Toys company thanks to purchasing the ball, says he's willing to place a bid.

"It's been a long time since Barry hit it and it doesn't nearly have the sex appeal that took place when the whole nation watched McGwire and Sosa go after a 36-year old record," McFarlane said. "But the bottom line is it's still a cool ball and if there are some really passionate Bonds fans out there, the price could rise pretty quickly."

Hayashi said his lawyer fees were high, but declined to discuss how much the ball would have to sell for in order to pay off all his bills. Popov also declined to say how much he spent on legal fees.

"It will sell now for whatever it sells for, it's out of my hands now," Popov said. "After watching some spring training and Bonds back in action again, I really felt like it was time to move on. It's enough for me to know that I'm a part of baseball history."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for, can be reached at