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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Plenty of people say Barry Bonds had an artificial achievement when he broke baseball's homerun record. But we can't say that Matt Murphy's role in this event was genuine, the 21-year-old college student who dove for Bonds' record-breaking homerun ball earlier this month. Today Mr. Murphy is parting with this precious piece of baseball memorabilia. He's putting the ball up for an online auction. He'll do that with SCP, Sports Cards Plus, which is an auction house that has sold such items as the original contract in which the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

Mr. Murphy joins us now. Matt Murphy, welcome to the program.

Mr. MATT MURPHY: Great to be here.

INSKEEP: I suppose we should check first off the prominence of this item that you're selling. How did it come into your possession, sir?

Mr. MURPHY: Well, we were in the stadium. Three-two pitch, Bonds crashes it to right center. It bounces off some fans' hands. It took a weird turn and I found the ball behind me and I saw the opportunity to dive for it, and I did.

INSKEEP: So now you've got the ball. And can I ask why not keep it?

Mr. MURPHY: I wanted to keep it, originally. I really did. It's such a tremendous, you know, piece of history. And I'm a baseball fan. The fact of the matter is I don't have the living room for it. I don't have the security system for it. I'm young. I don't have the money to keep the upkeep on such a tremendous valuable trophy even.

INSKEEP: Granted it hasn't been auction yet, we don't know the true value. But what do people think this ball may be worth?

Mr. MURPHY: You know, ESPN valued it between half a million dollars and $5 million, which is quite a gap.

INSKEEP: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: Several other experts have been saying anywhere from 350 to 850. But, you know, it's an auction, you really just don't know.

INSKEEP: Now, I want you to clear up something for us because there were conflicting reports in recent days about whether you were going to be required to pay some kind of tax having received this ball that does have some tremendous value to it.

Mr. MURPHY: Well, I've consulted with people and they have instructed me that, yes, you will be taxed on the sale and you will most likely be taxed if you decide to keep it.

INSKEEP: If you decide to keep it, you would also be taxed?

Mr. MURPHY: Yes. Yes. It sounds kind of crazy, but it has happened in the past.

INSKEEP: That something falls into your hands. I guess it's almost like a gift. It's a gift from Barry Bonds straight to you.

Mr. MURPHY: No. Exactly. You know, it's an $8, $9 baseball. I'll pay the $3 tax.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Now, people are going to be bidding more than $9 online here. How's this going to work when they auction this?

Mr. MURPHY: Well, you can call in. You can log on and place your bid, assuming you qualify.

INSKEEP: If you were going to try to qualify to bid on this ball, could you get close?

Mr. MURPHY: Oh, me?

INSKEEP: Yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: Right now? For a 21-year-old kid, I have a little bit of money but not enough to even attempt to place the bid on that.

INSKEEP: Although, does Barry Bonds' controversy cut the value a little bit?

Mr. MURPHY: People are telling me it does, but you don't just wake up one morning and hit 760 homeruns. You have to have tremendous talent to do that.

INSKEEP: Can you safely tell me who's got the ball right now?

Mr. MURPHY: The ball right now is with the auction house. They're insured. They have it at an undisclosed location. I don't even know where it is. But I've been instructed that it is safe right now.

INSKEEP: Has anybody asked you to just please, please hold it?

Mr. MURPHY: Not directly, no. I know Barry said that it belongs to the person who caught it.

INSKEEP: Barry Bonds, okay.

Mr. MURPHY: Barry Bonds, yes. And I hope that the person who does buy it is in the position to either loan it or donate it to the Hall of Fame or put it where someone publicly can just go and see it, you know. It's a piece of history.

INSKEEP: Although, come on. Half a million dollars, if somebody pays that much, they're going to keep it around the house. Play a little catch.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Matt Murphy, thanks very much.

Mr. MURPHY: No problem.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Matt Murphy is from Queens, New York. He's selling the Barry Bonds homerun baseball that he dove for earlier this month in a crush of San Francisco fans. He plans, he says, to invest his proceeds, which he will divide almost 50-50 - almost 50-50 - with a friend who accompanied him.

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