NEW YORK (AP) — Saying he was a “psycho fan” and a “sports geek,” Spawn comic book creator Todd McFarlane revealed Monday he was the anonymous bidder who paid more than $3 million for Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball.
McFarlane, who also has a company that makes action figures, said the timing of his announcement was tied to the yearly Toy Fair in New York.
“It was a mixture of business, charity and self-indulgence to the nth degree,” he said of the decision to buy the ball.
McFarlane, a 37-year-old Canadian who lives in Tempe, Ariz., is a minority investor in the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
He said he would like to allow the Hall of Fame to show the ball at times, would make it available to charities to raise money and would let individual major league teams display it.
“I’d like to be able to take 20 swings in every major league ballpark,” he said during a news conference.
He said he wasn’t worried about someone breaking the record McGwire set last September.
“If it gets too close, I saw what Tonya Harding did a few years ago, so there are options,” he said, referring how Harding’s entourage hired someone to attack rival skater Nancy Kerrigan.
In all, McFarlane bought nine home run balls hit by McGwire and Sammy Sosa, including McGwire’s first, 63rd, 67th, 68th and 69th, and Sosa’s 33rd (his record 20th in June), 61st and 66th.
McFarlane bought the ball at auction Jan. 12, paying $2.7 million to Philip Ozersky, a research scientist at Washington University who caught the ball Sept. 27 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Guernsey’s auction house got an additional $305,000 as its commission.
Sosa’s final home run of the season, No. 66, cost McFarlane $172,500. All the others he bought at the auction cost under $20,000 apiece.
McFarlane outbid Irwin Sternberg, the president of the neckwear firm Stonehenge Ltd., for No. 70. Sternberg stopped at $2.6 million; McFarlane said $2.9 million was as high as he was willing to go.
“I blew my life savings on this,” McFarlane said. “I’m not Donald Trump. I don’t have a lot of cash.”
The group of balls will be called “The McFarlane Collection.”
“Given that I name all my corporations after myself, I’ll name it after myself,” he said. “Better than the ‘Guy Who Has More Money Than Brains Collection.'”