Barry Bonds' 756th home run ball -- which owner Marc Ecko said he would brand with an asterisk and send to the Baseball Hall of Fame to comply with the results of an Internet poll -- could be on display at the Cooperstown, N.Y., museum by Opening Day.
"We'll display it, but the text accompanying the ball will cover when it was hit and how it ended up in Cooperstown," Jeff Idelson, the Hall's vice president for communications and education, told reporters. "It's meant to be educational."
Ecko, who bought the record-breaking ball for $752,000 at an online auction, still has the ball, Idelson said.
Ecko had asked fans what he should do with the ball. He proposed blowing it up, blasting it into space or branding it with an asterisk -- reflecting suspicions that Bonds broke Henry Aaron's home run record with the help of performance-enhancing drugs. Online voters picked the asterisk option, and Ecko said he would carry out their wishes.
Bonds told a federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) that he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs. He is facing federal perjury charges over that testimony.
"The asterisk represents a one-week period in September 2007, through an Internet poll, on how fans felt about the ball. That doesn't mean that's the way we feel today," Idelson said. "It also represents the stigma Barry had as he chased the home run record.
"The asterisk doesn't implicate Barry. Fans will have to make their own decision," Idelson said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "We would never suggest how they should judge things."
Bonds said in September that he would boycott the Hall if it displays the marked ball. Idelson said he has attempted to contact Bonds about the exhibit, according to The San Jose Mercury News.
"We are open to any dialogue he wishes to have," Idelson said, according to The Mercury News. "Before the display goes up, we would love to share it with Barry, make sure he's comfortable and add to it, if he wants."
The ball would join a Bonds exhibit at the Hall, which already includes the batting helmets he wore when he hit the record-tying and record-breaking home runs; baseballs signed by Bonds' San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals, against whom he hit the record-breaking homer; and broadcaster Duane Kuiper's scorebook from the night Bonds became Major League Baseball's all-time home run king.