Home run ball still in legal limbo

Posted: Thursday, January 02, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The two men unable to agree on who owned Barry Bonds' 73rd home run ball now can't agree on how to sell it.

That leaves the record ball still locked in legal limbo.

A judge ruled last month neither should get it outright -- Alex Popov gloved the ball for an instant and Patrick Hayashi ended up with it.

Now the only thing the men can agree on is to postpone a court order that requires them to unload the ball and split the money, perhaps $1 million.

Under Judge Kevin McCarthy's order, Popov, Hayashi and their lawyers were to meet with Judge Richard Kramer and sort out the details of the sale by Dec. 30. That deadline came and went.

''We've had a couple of meetings with Kramer and decided to postpone the decision,'' said Popov's lawyer, Martin Triano. ''We agreed to postpone to take the holidays off.''

He did not say whether Popov was planning to appeal McCarthy's decision. Hayashi said he was disappointed he didn't get the ball, but had no intention of appealing.

Hayashi said the best way to resolve the dispute was to hand the ball to an independent seller.

''We gave our proposal that the ball be given to an auction house,'' Hayashi said Wednesday. ''That'll just take the headaches out of it.''

The San Francisco Giants' slugger touched off the long court battle when he set the single-season home run record on the last day of the 2001 regular season.

During the fan melee, caught on videotape, the ball was in Popov's glove for at least six-tenths of a second before he was enveloped by spectators at Pacific Bell Park. In court, neither side could agree on what defined possession -- Popov's split-second catch or Hayashi's final grab.

McCarthy acknowledged Popov had been ''set upon by a gang of bandits who dislodged the ball.''

But McCarthy added that Popov never demonstrated full possession and could not be awarded sole ownership. The judge also made clear Hayashi had done nothing wrong and was not part of that gang.

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