eBay bidders balk at home run balls

McGwire and Sosa drove baseball attendance sky-high, but e-bids on their record-setting home run balls aren't.

The biggest fans of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, the baseball heroes who broke the single-season home run record last season, apparently aren't big fans of e-commerce.

The baseballs that broke the historic record have been up for auction on eBay.com, a high-profile online auction service, since Tuesday. But as of late Wednesday no one had placed a bid on the items, which require a minimum bid of $50,000 or $100,000.

Give it time
eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY), representatives suggested that a few days' warm-up time is normal for a high-priced online auction.

"These are historic and important balls, and a particular audience is bidding on them," said eBay's Kristin Seuell. "Like many auctions on eBay, the number of bids will start to grow several days into the auction."

Although is one-of-a-kind, eBay has now and again sold other big-ticket items, such as cars and even property. On Wednesday users were bidding on a Ford Expedition truck for upwards of $26,000 and a Porsche for about $22,000.

But the average transaction on the service is about $40, and the more common items are such commodities as Beanie Babies and computer equipment. Users tend to go to the service looking for bargains, analysts say, and that flea-market mentality might not fit in with the glossy world of high-priced auctions.

Value mismatch?
There could also be a "value mismatch," according to Jae Kim, an analyst at Paul Kagan Associates. "Sports fanatics would love these things, but techie bidders go to eBay for other things."

eBay bidders also have to be approved by New York-based auction house Guernsey's, with whom the e-commerce company is cooperating for the auction, before they can make an electronic bid.

There's plenty of time for them to get interested, however, since the main auction doesn't begin until next week.

Included in the auction are Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball, six other balls and other baseball memorabilia.

eBay, based in San Jose, Calif., will take part in the real-world auction, allowing the highest online bidders to compete with their counterparts in the physical world.


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