After hearing enough of his friends’ bickering over baseball slugger Barry Bonds and the legitimacy of his recently accomplished home-run record, hip-hop-fashion mogul Marc Ecko decided to put his money where his mouth was.
Ecko paid $752,467 in the Sotheby’s/SCP bidding war for Bonds’ 756th home-run ball and was rewarded on Saturday when he won the auction. But instead of keeping the prize all for himself, Ecko decided to let fans determine its fate. He has set up a Web site, Vote756.com, where fans can vote on three different possible outcomes for the ball: Send it to Cooperstown with or without an asterisk — to signify the controversy that has accompanied Bonds’ home-run record — or launch it into space. The voting began Monday (September 17) and will last for one week.
On Monday — after reasserting on “The Today Show” how committed he was to obtaining the ball — he recalled to MTV News what spurred him to pursue the item. “I was at a dinner and everyone was worked up; someone to the right of me was like, ‘It’s real, it’s legitimate,’ on the left of me someone was saying, ‘No way, it’s tainted, it needs a footnote,’” Ecko recalled. “And someone across from me just rolled their eyes. Maybe I had too much wine that night, but I put my hand down and I was like, ‘I’m going to get that ball.’ ”
Ecko, who collects other popular-culture items as well, including “Star Wars” memorabilia and art, said he purchased the Bonds ball so he could have a collective experience with the public. He repeatedly said he wanted to democratize the process by which the fate of the ball will be decided. According to Ecko, he’s giving the system a kick in the ass.
“If you follow the news, it’s about a system that fosters, encourages and always rewards players, in the constituency in the system, by any means,” he said. “And we kind of high-five each other because it’s entertainment. We just play ostrich.
“I’ve cheated in life, I’ve done stupid stuff. But the systems need to be put on check and put on blast. And this is a lighthearted way to … bring that back up. … I’m not a judge and jury — [the Bonds controversy is] not about me. I have an opinion, you have an opinion. It’s fun. I’m having fun. Hopefully, overall, people will have an opinion.”
Ecko was adamant about his decision, and satisfied, but he did admit he was a bit surprised when he discovered he was the winner.
“When I found out I won, I pretty much said, ‘Oh sh–, this is real now,’ ” he said, laughing. “I was at dinner with my wife. And it was like, ‘It’s on, I guess I’m working tomorrow.’ But I was committed.
“I’ve been given this platform with the blessing of success. I’m passionate about what I do, and being able to stand for something is cool. And at the end of the day, that’s why I wake up and do what I do.”