Former St. Louis Cardinals player Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs during the 1998 season, breaking Roger Maris' longstanding record of 61. Famous comic book artist Todd McFarlane purchased the 70th ball at auction at the end of the 1998 season to mark the momentous season but did not anticipate future issues. Now the ball has lost millions of dollars in value.
According to TMZ, multiple top sports auction houses have revealed that McGwire's 70th-home run ball is worth much less than $500,000. This is a far cry from the original auction price. McFarlane paid $2.7 million for the ball during a 1998 auction. However, the taxes and fees pushed the price to more than $3 million. McFarlane still has the ball, which he showed during ESPN's latest 30 for 30, Long Gone Summer.
TMZ spoke to multiple auction houses to gain an estimated price for McGwire's home run ball. Ken Golin of Goldin Auctions provided a range of $250,000-$300,000. David Kohler of SCP Auctions, on the other hand, believes that the ball could fetch up to $400,000.
There are multiple reasons for the depreciation following McGwire's record-breaking season. In 2003, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs to pass the former St. Louis Cardinals player. Additionally, McGwire admitted to steroid use following his career, which tainted the 1998 season. McFarlane owns Bonds' 73rd home run ball, which he purchased for an estimated $500,000.
When McFarlane showed off his baseball collection during Long Gone Summer, he explained how home run balls are special. These are pieces of memorabilia that fans can easily obtain if they are in the right spot. It's not like trying to track down the football from Drew Brees' record-breaking night against the Indianapolis Colts in which he became the all-time leader in career touchdown passes.
"If Wayne Gretzky breaks a goals scored record, he puts the puck in the net, 'Time!' and they go get the puck and they give it to Wayne," McFarlane said during ESPN's Long Gone Summer documentary. "Michael Jordan scores the most points, 'Time!' Somebody gets the most touchdowns, 'Time!' [and all the milestone balls are given to the athletes].
"You hit that home run, and you set any kind of record with that home run, could be a guy in the bleachers, one of the bleacher bums goin, 'I've got the ball. This ball right here is history.' You're in the middle of that story. That ball put you in the middle of that story."