Major league baseball: $12.
Barry Bonds' 700th home run ball: $804,129.
Value of publicity by auctioning the 700th home run ball: Priceless.
That's what Salt Lake-based Overstock Auctions found during the past week and a half as it auctioned online the San Francisco Giants slugger's historic ball, which on Wednesday went for a top price of $804,129
A total of 240 bids were placed between noon Oct. 18 and noon Wednesday. The first few days featured activity more hectic than a Boston Red Sox ninth-inning rally, but by the weekend bidding was reduced to a trickle smaller than Montreal Expos attendance. Only one bid was made Friday; three followed on Saturday.
The identity of the bidder was not immediately made public.
Still, Overstock Auctions, a new venture by Overstock.com Inc., was ecstatic over the auction's activities.
"This is a huge win for us to get this ball up on our brand-new auction site and attract this much attention," said Holly MacDonald-Korth, vice president of auctions. "The media attention has been a real boon for Overstock Auctions, and we're thrilled to have it."
MacDonald-Korth said ESPN, CNN and MSN had featured information about the auction on their Web sites, and a San Francisco radio station gave updates during morning and evening drive times. Business Week magazine also mentioned the auction.
What's more, the Web page for the ball auction had been viewed more than 381,000 times.
"The number of items we've had on the site and the number of bids each item has been getting has definitely gone up since we had the ball up because it's bringing so many people to the site," she said. "And it's also let so many people know about it. We've only been up for four weeks, so having something with this much attention up in the first four weeks has been a great way to let people know about Overstock Auctions.
"It's far exceeded our expectations as far as media attention, the clearing price, the number of bids — in every way, it's been way better than we could have possibly hoped."
Estimates that the ball would fetch a "six-figure" top bid proved accurate.
"The seller thought it could go over a million, and we did have some people not sure if it would clear six digits, so there was a wide range of speculation about what it would clear at," MacDonald-Korth said.
Lifelong Giants fan Steven Williams, 26, of Pacifica, Calif., came up with the ball following an 80-second melee in the left-center bleachers of SBC Park Sept. 17. He later fought off a couple of legal challenges from other fans claiming ownership. Terms of his deal with Overstock Auctions are confidential.
Williams has said he hopes the winning bidder puts the ball in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He has committed to donating 10 percent of auction proceeds over $200,000 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Edgewood Center for Children and Families in San Francisco, and he wants to buy his mom a convertible and perhaps return to college.
The next big record-price ball likely will be Bonds' 756th, which would move him one home run past Henry Aaron for the all-time baseball career home run record. Bonds finished this season with 703 homers, putting him on pace to top Aaron in late 2005 or early 2006.