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Fan will auction Bonds' 715th home run ball on Internet

SAN FRANCISCO -- The fan who caught Barry Bonds' 715th home run ball while waiting for a beer and peanuts will sell the history-making ball on Internet auction site eBay.

Andrew Morbitzer said he and his wife, Megan, mulled keeping the ball but decided they couldn't turn down a possible payoff. The ball might help the couple put a down payment on a home in pricey San Francisco.

"We decided if we were rich we'd keep the ball because it's fun to have a piece of sports lore to hold on to," Morbitzer told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "But we're not rich."

Experts have said the ball is expected to fetch around $100,000 at auction, far less than the $500,000 some experts say it could have commanded absent the controversy surrounding Bonds and his alleged involvement with steroids.

The auction will start July 24 and continue for 10 days. Morbitzer said he is mulling an opening bid of roughly $10,000. The bidding will also likely be a "reserve" auction, meaning Morbitzer won't part with the ball for less than a certain price.

"It was fun to have and it's fun to have been the one to catch the ball," Morbitzer said. "It was a great once-in-a-lifetime moment. But the decision is based on the fact that there's someone who would love to pay us for it."

San Jose based eBay has handled auctions for other cherished pieces of baseball history. The items sold on the site include a 1909 Honus Wagner T206 card that fetched $1.27 million and Shoeless Joe Jackson's "Black Betsy" bat, which sold for nearly $580,000.

"We were absolutely thrilled to get the call from the Morbitzers," said Jed Clevenger, a sports memorabilia manager with eBay. "It's a great marriage of coincidence and time and history."

Morbitzer said he decided to sell the ball online because of the chance to reach more potential bidders, including international baseball fans.

"It gives anyone a chance to participate in this auction and be a part of history," he said.

Morbitzer was waiting his turn to stock up on a couple of beers and peanuts May 28 when Bonds hit the home run that moved him past Babe Ruth in the record books.

For several moments, Bonds' milestone ball appeared to be beyond anyone's reach. It sat lodged on an elevated platform in center field, then trickled off the roof.

Morbitzer caught the ball with one hand.

The 38-year-old San Francisco marketing director was quickly ushered away by security. He spent the next few days on the talk-show, sports-program circuit.

Morbitzer said he and his wife were able to move about undetected during that time by mimicking the famous.

"We changed clothes and wore a hat and sunglasses," he said. "It worked. The entire time we had one person figure out who we were."