Sale of baseball nets fan $3m

A WHITE leather baseball with fancy red stitching and some very special history has sold at auction in New York for an even more special price - just over $3m (pounds 1.8m).

The ball was the centre of attention at an auction at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night of assorted baseball memorabilia. Its claim to fame was this: it was struck into the history books last September by the Cardinals' superstar slugger of the 1998 season, Mark McGwire. More importantly, it delivered the 70th and last home run of the summer to Mr McGwire, who now holds the home-run record in baseball history.

The bid was made over the telephone by an anonymous baseball enthusiast. The vendor was Philip Ozersky, 26, a research scientist from Missouri, who was lucky enough to be in Busch Stadium in St Louis on the day McGwire made the home run. More to the point, Mr Ozersky was lucky enough to be the person who caught it when it sailed into the terraces.

Mr Ozersky went home yesterday richer by $2.7m. The balance of the full price paid for the ball - $3,054,000 - was taken as commission by Guernsey's, the New York auction house that organised the sale.

"I went to a ballgame, and all of a sudden there are millions of dollars in my hand," mused Mr Ozersky, who plans to give part of the money to charities. "I'm going to remain a research scientist. I just have a big bank account now."

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