Manny grill offer violated eBay policy

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The gas grill offered for sale by Manny Ramirez was removed from eBay because he could not be verified as its owner and the listing violated company policy.

The seller's contact information given to the Web site when the item was listed was not that of the Boston Red Sox slugger, said eBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe.

The bidding began with the minimum allowed, $3,000, at 1:11 p.m. ET Tuesday and rose throughout the day, reaching $99,999,999 by about midnight, the highest bid the Web site was technically capable of listing. The item was removed from the site Wednesday.

"Obviously, it was receiving a high level of interest, as you would expect," Sharpe told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. "We actually tried to proactively contact the seller."

The customer support team called the phone number in the contact information and spoke several times with someone other than Ramirez, she said.

"We have requested additional verification," Sharpe said. "If it's not officially from (Ramirez) it would disappoint his many fans."

She suggested that if Ramirez is verified as the owner, he might want to list it on eBay's charity program that allows proceeds to go to the charity of the seller's choice. Ramirez is in the next-to-last year of a $160 million, eight-year contract.

"If I was his manager I would think that would be a great idea," she said, referring to his representative.

Greg Genske, Ramirez's agent, did not return an e-mail seeking comment Thursday.

"The listing itself violated our listing policy," Sharpe said. "As a seller, you need to be mindful of the policy."

One violation, Sharpe said, was that the listing on the Web site said Ramirez bought the grill, but he told a reporter it belongs to a neighbor in Weston, Fla. The neighbor's involvement was first reported by The Boston Globe. Another violation was the offer of an autographed baseball, she said.

Just as "If you're driving a car, you need to have rules to drive safely," she said, strict rules are required for selling items on eBay, which is headquartered in San Jose, Calif.

One of the playful offers was for $5,111.11, a reminder of the $51.11 million the Red Sox offered for the rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Sharpe said any bids would have been legally binding even if they were made frivolously.

Removing the item pending proof of ownership "shows we're being responsible," Sharpe said.

The original listing included seven photos of the grill, two with Ramirez next to it, and the message: "Hi, I'm Manny Ramirez. I bought this AMAZING grill for about $4,000 and I used it once. ... But I never have the time to use it because I am always on the road. I would love to sell it and you will get an autographed ball signed by me. Enjoy it, Manny Ramirez."