Thursday, September 27, 2007

* Barry Bonds ball *

The baseball which broke one of the game's biggest records - the total number of home runs hit - is set to be branded with an asterisk by its owner. The move is a sign of the scepticism among fans about the validity of the record set by slugger Barry Bonds.

He has been accused of using banned steroids to boost his home run total, but has always denied the accusations. The historic ball was bought by fashion designer Marc Ecko for $752,467 after being caught by a New York Mets fan. Mr Ecko decided to ask the fans how the ball should be treated.

In an online poll, 47% of fans voted to have the ball stamped with an asterisk, while 34% said it should not be changed and 10% voted to blast it into space. There were 10 million votes cast.

An asterisk against a record in baseball indicates that the record is suspect, or subject to qualification.

And some fans had taken to following Mr Bonds around, holding up an asterisk sign. Mr Ecko will now donate the ball to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, which holds baseball memorabilia, where it will go on display.

Bonds broke the home run record - hitting his 756th home run - at Giants stadium in San Francisco on 7 August, overtaking Hank Aaron.

Matt Murphy, a 21-year-old student from New York, came up with the record-breaking ball after Bonds hit it into the right-centerfield stands. Mr Ecko acquired the ball after an online auction on 15 September.

After 22 seasons in baseball, 15 of them with the San Francisco Giants, Mr Bonds has been released and is now looking to play for a new team next year.

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