SCP Auctions April 2008 Live Auction


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Barry Bonds – Major League Baseball’s All-Time Home Run King

Barry Bonds is the most dominant baseball player of the 21st Century, whose monumental swagger is backed up by power hitting statistics unrivaled in a generation of unprecedented home run production. Since Hank Aaron last re-wrote the record books with his 755th and final clout on July 20, 1976, baseball’s all-time home run record has grown in stature for more than three decades. As other, lesser records fell, “755” went largely unchallenged. A decade ago, Ken Griffey Jr. showed a threatening combination of youth and power, only later to prove lacking the final requisite – durability. Finally, in 1999 Barry Bonds began a relentless surge that made him a legitimate heir to Aaron’s throne. Already a bonafide superstar, Bonds, at age 35, accelerated his substantial home run production during a period in which most mortal ball players considered their twilight years. From 2000-2004, when he was age 36-40 Bonds averaged more than 51 home runs a season. While Aaron chipped away at the title in his later years, Bonds surged towards the record, pounding his way into the pantheon of baseball’s elite sluggers. As he climbed the ladder, passing his beloved godfather Willie Mays, then Babe Ruth, and finally Hank Aaron, a nation of baseball fans were awed. Some in support, some opposed to the crowing of a new King, but all in awe. Finally, on a cool ????? night in the thin air of Colorado’s Coors Field, Bonds hit career home run number 762. As The King laid down his scepter after the opposite field blast, no one could have anticipated that it would be his last of the 2007 season, and given his absence from a major league roster at the start of the 2008 season, likely the last of his storied career. Behold, 762.


Barry Bonds blasted his 762nd and last home run at Coors Field on Sept. 5, 2007.

In the six months since, the greatest mystery hasn’t been when, or if, the all-time home run king will play again, but who walked away with the record-setting baseball.

That intrigue ended on Thursday, March 13th at a news conference in Denver where the holder of the ball, Jameson Sutton, was revealed. Sutton also revealed his decision then to enlist the services of SCP Auctions to put the historic ball up for auction. And here we are…

The tale of how this baseball treasure arrived at this point is worth revisiting.

After Bonds connected on No. 756 to move past Hank Aaron, each of his successive home runs became the new final home run. Every fan who snagged one became an instant celebrity and, at least until the next one was hit, the potential beneficiary of a small fortune. When the season ended on Sept. 30, every home run ball that Bonds had hit after 756 had been accounted for, except one: No. 762.

In stark contrast to the sea of people attacking each other for Bonds’ record-breaking 756th at a sold-out AT&T Park, only three fans were involved in the scramble for No. 762 at half-empty Coors Field on Sept. 5, 2007. Robert Harmon, a Rockies fan and season-ticket holder, was one of them, and after a brief scuffle in which all three men went down, a television camera caught him holding up a ball in the palm of his glove.

“Everybody in the stands was coming up to me and congratulating me and taking my picture,” said Harmon, whose scruffy, white beard has made him a recognizable figure at games. “I even had a guy on the phone call me and say, ‘Hey, Robert, nice snag, I see you got the ball!’ Then this other kid runs up and says, ‘We got the baseball’ and I said, ‘No, I got the baseball,’ and the rest is history.”

At first, Harmon and other collectors believed that the second ball had been thrown into the scrum by a prankster sitting behind them, but after studying a slow-motion replay shot from a center-field camera, they discovered that the man who ended up getting the real No. 762 had been holding an extra ball in his bare hand, which was dropped in pursuit of No. 762. The ball was a batting practice ball that had been tossed up to him from the field prior to the game.

Upon close examination, Harmon realized his own ball wasn’t the real one (“I’m positive that it’s not a game ball. It’s like a batting practice ball or something.”), but he had been approached by so many people who thought it was that he embarked on his own crusade to find it.

After months of dead ends and quite a bit of legwork, Harmon learned through an usher in his section that the young man who walked away with the real ball was 24-year-old Boulder resident Sutton, the son of two season-ticket holders.

Sutton, who grew up rooting for Barry Bonds and doesn’t believe Bonds used steroids, said he wasn’t actively thinking about catching the ball, even as Bonds stepped into the batters box.

“I thought it’d be cool if he hit one that day, just to see it,” Sutton said. “I was just watching pitch by pitch … it was like the first inning, and it happened so fast.”

It happened on the 12th pitch of the game – a 99-mph fastball from rookie right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. As No. 762 approached the seats, television cameras showed Sutton and a larger man running through an aisle from opposite directions and colliding behind the wall, just in front of Harmon.

“He hit me pretty hard on the left,” Sutton said. “I felt the ball hit me above my glove where I was gonna catch it. It happened fast, so it was really hard to tell, but from what I know, he pushed my glove down some … he hit me on the upper arm area, and I fell and went down with them because we all got tackled.”
Harmon, who weighs about 165 pounds, also remembers getting hit by the other fan.

“He hip-checked me out of the way. I was like three steps away and then boom! I mean, he body-checked me and literally picked me up off the ground and moved me over.”

The other fan, it turned out, is a notorious ballhawk from San Francisco named Jake Frazier, a 26-year-old Giants fan who attends about 100 games a year, both at home and on the road.

The scramble for No. 762 began after the ball deflected off the heel of Sutton’s glove and bounced into the aisle.

“I didn’t have a free hand,” said Sutton, who let go of his practice ball when he saw the real one in the aisle. “I had to drop it to reach and get the Bonds ball, and I was more than happy to do that.”

Then there was the issue of fan interference.

As Bonds rounded the bases, Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday protested that a fan had reached out of the stands and touched the ball. The home run stood, and although stadium security briefly gathered around Sutton while the umpires reviewed the play, he was allowed to keep the ball and return to his seat.

When Sutton snatched No. 762, nobody at that time had any notion that this ball could be the last one ever hit by Barry Bonds, thus representing the All-Time Career Home Run Record. There was no great fanfare. Jamison was never approached by an MLB official, whisked away by stadium security or interviewed on TV. Instead he returned to his seat, watched most of the game and disappeared before the final out. “I’ve seen a couple things online where they were looking for who has it,” Sutton said, “but I didn’t know how risky it would be to have my name out. … You know, there could be people trying to find me to steal it or hurt me to get it, so I was just keeping quiet.”

Sutton placed the ball in a safe deposit box and tracked Bonds’ stats for the remainder of the season. He knew that another home run would greatly reduce the value of his ball, but says he never rooted against Bonds.

“I thought it would be cool if he could keep adding to his record, but he never did, and that’s when I was like, ‘Damn.’ ”

As the 2008 baseball season gets underway, the distance between Barry Bonds and the game he dominated for 22 seasons continues to grow. Today, baseball’s all-time career home run record stands firm at 762. SCP Auctions is proud to present the ball hit by Bonds to set that record, arguably the most hallowed record in all of sports.

Accompanying Articles of Provenance:

1.) A signed affidavit from Jamison Sutton.

2.) A positive polygraph test by Jamison Sutton confirming his account of obtaining the 762 ball.

3.) A signed affidavit from Robert Harmon.

4.) Video documentation of Jamison Sutton catching Barry Bonds Home Run #762 baseball.

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