NEW YORK -- Alex Popov and Patrick Hayashi met for the first time in October 2001, fighting over the ball Barry Bonds hit for his record 73rd home run.
It was not exactly the best way to start a friendship, but the possible $1 million they'll split for the ball should soothe any remaining ill will.
After a bitter two-week trial, a judge determined they should sell the ball and share the proceeds. The ball is being auctioned next Wednesday by Lelands.com.
"Friendship takes time," Hayashi said Wednesday. "We are co-owners of a piece of property. Over time, friendship happens. Sure, I'd call him and go to a game. We both play golf. Maybe we'll get together for a game."
Josh Evans, chairman of Leland's, said he expected the ball to sell for over $1 million. Early online bidding has reached $150,000.
"The question is how close we'll get to the McGwire ball," Evans said. "You never know."
Mark McGwire's 70th home run sold for $3.2 million to comic art creator Todd McFarlane in 1999. Two years later, Bonds pushed the record to 73 with his final home run in the final game of the 2001 season.
Popov and Hayashi each bought tickets that day, and positioned themselves in the right field stands at Pac Bell park.
"I did research on line to show where Bonds hit most of his home runs," said Popov, a Berkeley, Calif., restaurateur. "He hit quite a few in that area."
Hayashi, a graduate student, had his own strategy. He went to the game with his brother, Lane, and they split up in the same section. "That increased the odds for us," he said.
Popov and Hayashi both remember the homer the same way - a high fly ball moving almost in slow motion, right toward them.
Popov caught it - for a moment. Then a scrum developed. The ball was jarred loose, and there, at the bottom of a pile of people, was Hayashi.
"I saw the ball on the ground and I picked it up," he said.
And that triggered the ownership debate.
Popov said he still has the glove he used to catch the ball. He could sell that, too.
"It's got 'Exhibit 8' on the back now," he said.
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