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Fan plans to sell Bonds' 700 ball
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09/18/2004 5:30 AM ET
Fan plans to sell Bonds' 700 ball
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Times have changed since Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth each hit their 700th home runs.

The milestone balls are certainly worth a lot more.

Steven Williams, a 25-year-old from nearby Pacifica, Calif., who said he works for a local mortgage broker, scrambled in the left-field bleachers Sept. 17 and plucked off the concrete the ball that San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds blasted out at SBC Park for his 700th home run.

Williams made it clear that he wasn't giving the ball to Bonds or sending it to Cooperstown.

"What am I going to do with it? Are you crazy? I'm going to sell this thing," Williams said after the Giants' 4-1 victory over the Padres.

Asked how much money he expected to get for the ball, which was specially marked for authenticity by MLB, Williams added: "I have no idea what I'm going to get for it. It's only worth what somebody will pay for it."

Here are a couple of yardsticks:

When Ruth, then playing for the New York Yankees, hit his 700th homer at old Tiger Stadium in Detroit on July 13, 1934, the Sultan of Swat wanted the ball. A young fan named Lennie Bielski was sitting in the right-field stands and came up with it. He exchanged the memento for an autographed replica ball, a box seat for the remainder of that particular Tigers-Yankees game and $20. Ruth went home happy.

When Aaron hit his 700th home run for the Braves on July 22, 1973, at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the drive went five rows over the high wall in left field and was retrieved by an 18-year-old fan, Robert Winborne.

barry bonds, the road to 700
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The Braves gave Winborne 700 silver dollars in exchange for the prime horsehide sphere. At the postgame press conference, Winborne offered to donate the $700 to charity, but Aaron, who knew something about poverty as a former Negro League player, encouraged him to keep the money.

Williams, who said he attended the games at SBC Park when Bonds hit his 500th and 600th homer, said he didn't intend to miss the game Sept. 17. He and a friend both bought $12 standing-room tickets and were wandering around the ballpark when Bonds came to the plate in the third inning.

Williams said he was just walking up the tunnel from the restroom when Bonds hit the ball.

"The next thing you know, I'm scrambling for it," he said, revealing a bandage on the back of his hand where he scraped it in the melee as a group of people tried to grab the ball. When he came up with it, he was surrounded by security and whisked away from the area.

Bonds, for his part, said he wasn't interested in retrieving the ball. He was happy for the fan who came up with it.

"I hope nobody got hurt," Bonds said.

Williams said he wouldn't offer the ball to Bonds anyway. Not free of charge.

"I couldn't do that," he said. "I'm not a Major League Baseball player making $5 million average."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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