View Full Version : Thompson's 1951 HR ball

06-14-2005, 01:50 AM
Posted By: <b>jay behrens</b><p>I would have posted this on the GU board, but I Josh evans reads this board. This is a current thread running on SABR-l:<br /><br />Bill Deane wrote:<br /><br /> This is a follow-up to my recent post about the supposed Bobby<br />Thomson home run ball being auctioned by Leland's. I e-mailed Leland's on June 10:<br /><br />&lt;&lt; It has come to my attention that Leland's is auctioning a baseball clamed to be the one hit by Bobby Thomson to win the 1951 National League pennant. I have reason to question the authenticity of this ball.<br /><br /> From 1986-94, I served as Senior Research Associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Some time during this period, I received a phone call from a man, asking whether the Hall had the Bobby Thomson ball, or knew of its whereabouts. After checking with our curatorial staff and clippings files, I reported that we did not have the ball or know who did.<br /><br /> The man, who sounded very credible, then gave me an account that I am repeating from memory some 15 years later. He said he was at the Polo Grounds on October 3, 1951, about 30 feet from where the Thomson ball landed. It rattled around in the seats and was retrieved by a small black boy, who high-tailed it out of the stadium with his prize before anyone else could react.<br /><br /> I wrote down the man's name and contact information for the Hall of Fame's files. The man subsequently wrote with a detailed account of the incident. I spoke to with Tim Wiles, the Hall's current Director of Research (TWiles@BaseballHallofFame.org), who says he has located these articles.<br /><br /> The man would seem to have no motive for fabricating this story. And, if it's true, I think anyone who was a kid in the 1950s or '60s would speculate that the Thomson ball was subsequently used in street games until it was lost, stolen, or destroyed from overuse.<br /><br /> I think it would behoove Leland's and any prospective buyers of this ball to investigate this story, and the claims of the owner of the Leland's ball, further. &gt;&gt;<br /><br /> I have not heard back from Leland's, but Josh Prager of the WALL STREET JOURNAL has followed up on my account. He got in touch with the man I spoke to, Reverend John Lee Smith, who actually remembers the boy catching the ball on the fly. Prager located a New York DAILY NEWS photo by Hank Olen which shows the ball entering the stands, still in flight. There is a black boy very close to the spot, and Prager was able to identify Rev. Smith standing about 15 feet away. Smith's account appears to be verified.<br /><br /> So, the question is, how did this ball get from the hands of this small boy in 1951 to the Leland's auction house in 2005?<br /><br />Bill Deane <br><br>I like to sit outside drink beer and yell at people. If I did this at home I would be arrested, so I go to baseball games and fit right in.

06-14-2005, 03:03 AM
Posted By: <b>J Levine</b><p>You might want to contact Glenn Codere, a collector in Scotland, and one of the people who is most knowledgeable about Bobby Thompson that I have ever known. In fact, I think he is co-authoring or helping research a book about Thompson's early career with the same WSJ writer you talked to. Drop me a note and I will send you his e-mail.<br /><br />Joshua

06-14-2005, 06:23 AM
Posted By: <b>identify7</b><p>The statement "I think anyone who was a kid in the 1950s or '60s would speculate that the Thomson ball was subsequently used in street games until it was lost, stolen, or destroyed from overuse" is not a statement which I agree with, and I was a kid during that period (and to a large extent, still am).<br /><br />Gilbert Maines<br />

06-14-2005, 09:47 AM
Posted By: <b>Kieran</b><p>So then what would the kid have done with it if he didnt play with it? Do you think he ran home put it ina boxat the bottom of his closet hoping to cash in decades later? <br /><br />Here is a stroy for you that is relevant to this post...my father used to work at Yankee Stadium in the 50's. One summer he was able to snag a Mantle homer or foul ball after it bounced around and landed in front of him. As a 13 year old in the Bronx this was like a gift from god. NOONE was bigger then the Mick for a young bronx kid. So what happened to that ball? HE HAD NO IDEA! He kept it in his room and over the years it just disappeared. <br /><br />What is the moral to this story? There is no way to determine if this is the real thing or not. <br><br>"I have had balls thrown at me my whole life. When I turned 30 I started to really hate balls - I didnt like the smell, feel or taste!"<br /><br />Yogi Berra - 1975

06-14-2005, 12:17 PM
Posted By: <b>Paul</b><p>I don't understand how the kid picked up the ball after it rattled around for awhile, but also caught the ball on the fly.

06-14-2005, 02:37 PM
Posted By: <b>Chris Counts</b><p>During the middle ages, the selling of biblical relics reached absurb proportions. Every church in Italy owned a sliver of the true cross, just like every kid today now can own a sliver of his favorite player's game used bat embedded in limited edition card. It seems as though the selling of baseball memorabilia has also reached absurd proportions. From Joe Dimaggio's "streak bat" to Bobby Thomson's "home run ball," the marketplace is filled with charlatans misrepresenting baseball memorabilia. And it's not limited to bats and balls. Type "1933 Goudey Babe Ruth" into eBay and see how many obvious fakes, reprints and potentially shady sellers (no feedback, etc.) pop up. Buyer beware!