David Kohler is about to make a tidy profit off Barry Bonds, which by itself isn’t such a bad thing. Bonds himself has never been shy about making a few extra bucks on everything from the wrist bands he wears in a game to an autographed pair of his shoes.Like Bonds, Kohler sells sentiment, and baseball fans have always been a sentimental lot. How else can you explain someone paying $600 in a recent auction for the 1909 marriage license of Frank “Home Run” Baker.
Kohler’s mission over the next few weeks is to get the most money he can for a pair of baseballs that suddenly became very valuable when Bonds hit them out of ballparks in San Diego and San Francisco. Bonds might not be that popular, but Kohler believes home run balls Nos. 755 and 756 will be.
And, remember, this is Barry Bonds, who doesn’t generate the warm and fuzzy kind of feelings that McGwire did in his prime.
“Obviously, there is some controversy out there over Bonds and the allegations,” said Kohler, president of SCP Auctions. “We’re not saying it’s worth $3 million, but how low can it go? We may be surprised with the interest we get.”
The Hall of Fame doesn’t have much from Bonds at all to celebrate any of his big home runs, which is perhaps fitting considering a lot of baseball purists don’t consider him the single season home run leader or the holder of the all-time mark because of his association with the BALCO steroid scandal.
There’s a bat from an early season home run in 2001 and a ball from another home run two weeks later. But you’d have more chance finding something from that season or this one for sale on BarryBonds.com than on exhibit in Cooperstown.
Even an institution with the pedigree of the Hall of Fame has trouble competing in today’s memorabilia marketplace, where big bucks are not only enticing to the lucky two fans who caught the home run balls but to players themselves who can add to their millions with a good collection of stuff. Bonds is the most public about selling his stuff, but he’s not alone.