Almost a year ago, fashion designer Marc Ecko purchased Barry Bonds’ record breaking 756th home run ball. The fan who caught the ball in the stands wanted to collect, so he put the ball up for auction. After Ecko won, he put up a poll on his website. Ecko humbly stated that although he bought the ball, everyone has an opinion on it, and the votes of everyone should be heard, so he started this website with a poll. 47% of the people that responded to his poll said the ball should be branded with an asterisk (a la Roger Maris’ 1961 home run record, which got an asterisk for occurring in a longer season than the previous record) and given to the Hall of Fame to display. Besides being one of the five best examples ever of “opening pandora’s box” and “a slippery slope”, this one tiny asterisk in 1961 left millions of Americans with hope that one day, if someone they didn’t like accomplished something, they could discredit it by throwing an asterisk on it. Like, say, a black guy who hit a ton of home runs.
It is impossible to write about this without at least mentioning my personal views on Barry Bonds. To be 100% honest, I don’t care at all about him. I certainly don’t waste time hating him, I assume he did steroids but I know that he certainly wasn’t the only one, and that there are guys who used just as much steroids as Bonds who never took any heat. The treatment he has received has been bigoted and vastly unfair, but I won’t pity someone who is healthy and a millionaire. I will say this: In our world’s long history, when a bunch of people have, on their own accord, all done something wrong, when has it ever been fair to single out just one of these people? For Bonds to be getting treated like he was last year, in his final season (and this year when no team would even sign him), he would’ve had to discover steroids in his home laboratory, mass produce them, sell them to every big leaguer, leave shit in a bag on every doorstep in America, bring back contaminated bananas from Mexico, and kill Mr. Rogers. Some people say steroids ruined baseball. A lot of people say Barry Bonds used steroids, including people who work as federal investigators. But I can definitively tell you that Barry Bonds didn’t ruin baseball. If you do think baseball is ruined, and it isn’t, then maybe the racist fucks who savored any chance they could get to publicly skewer a black guy are to blame. Bonds did something that hundreds of other players have done and has received 99% of the public blame. Instead of being a big pussy like Mark McGwire and retiring into hiding, Bonds has played the last few years on severely injured knees. While playing through pain is hard to fault, of course people in the media said Bonds was just holding on past his prime to break Aaron’s record and make some money.
Fast forward to today. Ecko’s committment to seeing the ball “in Cooperstown eternally” seems to have been a bit of a hyperbole. Although 81% of responses to his poll said the ball should be in Cooperstown, Ecko only offered to loan the ball to the hall of fame, and they offered to take the ball – permanently, which is their policy. This impasse was apparently not settled, and now the most famous baseball in history, the one that broke Hank Aaron’s seemingly unbreakable record, is sitting in a fashion designer’s closet instead of the baseball hall of fame. Many, many Americans have had the financial ability to purchase priceless baseball memorabilia. Instead of selfishly enjoying, say, Babe Ruth’s 714th home run in the comfort of their living room, they realize that irreplaceable baseball history belongs in the hall of fame, so the millions of fans that go to Cooperstown each year can see it. Fans that have been squeezed dry of every last disposable dollar they have by parking, concessions, memorabilia and tickets. It’s not a bad deal for MLB – a family of 4 spends almost 200 dollars to come to the park, eat, and get some merch (actual research took place), and leaves as a walking advertisement for the team. The players get their exorbitant salaries and princely treatment. The fans get nothing but their memories, and one small museum somewhere in New York where the items that made those memories, and that make them seem real again, exist. Now an iconic, polarizing, and irreplaceable baseball is in some guy’s trophy room, even though he pledged to give it to the hall. I don’t even care about the asterisk — If I ran the Hall, I’d display the ball with the asterisk not visible. The baseball that Barry Bonds hit deserves to look just like every other ball in the hall. Ecko’s actions are recorded history, to live on in “marc ecko barry bonds” google searches forever. The baseball – no matter how “monstrous” the man who hit it was – is baseball history, and that only belongs in one place. I think I speak for all of us when I say this to Mr. Ecko: Congratulations that putting a rhino on a pair of jeans was the apex of street cred, now give us back our fucking baseball.