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Fearing confusion, DuPuy says balls will be marked

PHILADELPHIA -- Major League Baseball has decided to mark those Barry Bonds baseballs after all, Bob DuPuy said Friday.

"I was surprised when I saw Darren's [story], to be honest with you. And I was surprised we weren't doing it. I asked why. Nobody had a reason. So I said, 'We should be doing it.'"
-- Bob DuPuy

Baseball's chief operating officer said the matter had not been brought to his attention until he saw an ESPN.com story, written this week by sports business reporter Darren Rovell, in which MLB spokesman Pat Courtney was quoted as saying there was no reason to mark the balls because Babe Ruth's 714 home runs were no longer "the record."

"I was surprised when I saw Darren's [story], to be honest with you," DuPuy said. "And I was surprised we weren't doing it. I asked why. Nobody had a reason. So I said, 'We should be doing it.' "

Asked how he would respond to critics who accused MLB of flip-flopping on this decision because of public pressure, DuPuy replied: "You can tell them they're full of crap, and you can quote me on that."

"I think some people just confused it the other day with what Bud said [about not celebrating players who move into the No. 2 spot all-time], which I agree with," DuPuy said. "A few years ago, Bonds went by Roger Maris (when he was chasing the single-season home run record) and nobody cared, because somebody had already gone by Maris. So what Bud said was, 'We don't celebrate when people move into second place,' and I agree.

"On the other hand, we do have milestones and achievements in this sport. ... So the idea is just to mark the ball so we won't have somebody say, 'I caught No. 714 or No. 715,' and then somebody else comes forward with a fraudulent ball and says he caught it, and we can say, 'No, you didn't.' So I said these balls ought to be marked, so there's no confusion, just so we don't have a lawsuit."

DuPuy said a shipment of marked balls arrived in Philadelphia before the Giants' game with the Phillies on Friday night, and "the umpires will put them in play whenever Bonds comes up."

Senior writer Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com.