The baseball Lou Gehrig knocked over the fence in game 1 of the 1928 World Series could have had any number of fates, but it just so happened to be caught by a serious baseball nerd who passed it on to his less baseball-obsessed kin, one of whom really needs it right about now. That ball, according to reports in The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and others, may help pay off the medical school debt of a relative of its original owner.
It's expected to fetch from $100,000 to $200,000 thanks to the meticulous care and documentation put into it by Buddy Kurland, a tobacco-shop owner and Yankees fan from Connecticut who caught, then dropped, then had the ball restored to him at the game. The price has reached $33,300 in pre-bidding on the Hunt Auctions site.
Kurland kept the ball in a case, along with a newspaper clipping about his unlikely catch, and that's what helped it build value. The auction site has the unlikely story of how he wound up with it:
Imagine the anticipation felt by Buddy Kurland as the ball hurtled toward his seating area only to have another fan knock his hat over his eyes and thusly dropped the home run ball that had, for a moment, been in his hands. As reported by legendary radio sportscaster Graham McNamee, "There she goes into the bleachers in center field. Someone is trying to catch it. He's got it. No, he hasn't. It's his error, the first error of the day. It has fallen from his hands and everybody else is trying to find it" During the chaos and scrum of the events Buddy Kurland's friend, Scotty, who was attending his first World Series game had remained fixed within his seat. When Kurland dropped the ball Scotty calmly reached down, picked up the ball, and placed it in his pocket. Shortly afterward Scotty presented the historic souvenir to a surprised and overjoyed Kurland.
The hit, off Hall-of-Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, turned out to be a three-run homer that brought in Gehrig and teammate Babe Ruth, and helped the Yankees win the game 9-3 and eventually the series against St. Louis.
Kurland displayed the ball in his shop for decades, but now that his descendants have it, they're more interested in using it to pay off 30-year-old Michael Gott's medical tuition than in continuing to admire it. "It should be in the hands of someone that really loves it and has passion for it," Gott's mother, Elizabeth Gott, The Associated Press. "Right now we have passion for my son and his career."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.