|Thursday, April 4
Updated: April 18, 4:11 PM ET
Gonzo's game-used gum up for bid
By Darren Rovell
The baseball collectibles market has seen demand for game-used paraphernalia skyrocket in the past few years, with everything from jerseys to hats and even pieces of baseball bats becoming hot commodities. But now the trend has taken a new -- and perhaps somewhat disturbing -- twist.
A wad of Bazooka bubble gum supposedly spit out by Luis Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks during a spring training game has been up for bid on "www.nocontraction.com" for a week.
With publicity starting to build, Web site creator Jason Gabbert, of Wood Lake, Minn., is anxious to see how high the bidding will go before the auction closes April 15.
"I'm not going to say how high I think it will go, because I don't want to ruin things," Gabbert said. "But I'll be bummed to see it go. I'm kind of attached to it now."
Gabbert, 32, said the auction started a week ago at $20. Since then, thanks to radio talk shows Wednesday morning in both Tucson and Phoenix, bidding has taken off. Entering Thursday, bidding stood at $75, but by noon it had reached $175. By 10 a.m. ET on Friday, it hit $600. Gabbert said proceeds will benefit athletics at Lakeview High School in Cottonwood, Minn.
"Somehow I don't think Gonzo's gum is going to bring $100,000, unless maybe his buddies buy it themselves," said Gabbert, whose Web site is devoted to selling anti-contraction apparel such as shirts that read, "Selig is not my Bud."
On March 7, Gonzalez singled in the first inning against the Oakland A's at Tucson Electric Park, then promptly discarded his gum. Gabbert, sitting in the first row behind first base, asked a security guard to retrieve the used gum, then put it in a golf ball collector's case, where it currently resides.
"The gum has a couple small pebbles in it (from falling on the dirt), but it's still a great conversation piece," Gabbert said.
In 1993, Gabbert was convicted of attempted theft in North Dakota after opening a bank account in major-league pitcher Aaron Sele's name. Gabbert said he hopes his mistake years ago doesn't create doubt of the gum's connection to Gonzalez.
Gonzalez and Gabbert were guests on "The Johnjay & Rich Radio Program" on KRQ Radio in Tucson on Wednesday morning. Gonzalez couldn't say for sure that the gum in question was his but said it was a strong possibility.
Jill Mosher, a 45-year-old real estate executive from Phoenix who says she is a die-hard Diamondbacks fan, submitted a $75 bid and upped the ante to $600 on Friday. Mosher said she has an unlimited amount of money to spend on the bid and plans to have Gonzalez autograph the case that houses the gum.
"I'm going to put it on my nightstand next to my bed," a confident Mosher told ESPN.com. She owns only one other piece of sports memorabilia: A signed 8x10 photo of former NBA player Jeff Hornacek.
Rich Klein, a baseball price guide analyst for Beckett.com, a sports collectibles Web site, said he couldn't speculate on what the winning bid might be due to the oddball nature of the item, but he did say that the price will go up if the provenance -- or chain of custody -- is confirmed.
"People are crazy, or at least a little weird," Gonzalez told the Associated Press on Wednesday night. He told KRQ, "I'm scared to go to restaurant now and take a napkin or something."
Darren Rovell covers sports business for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.