Baseball is a game that can be shrouded in mystique. It’s a characteristic that makes it the greatest game on Earth. One of the reasons I have never liked Interleague play is because I feel it takes away some of the mystique of the World Series. But the game has had many moments that have been clouded in the mystique of the game. Some of the greatest moments have been. A lot of these magical moments have been in the World Series on the nation’s biggest nationally televised stage. For instance the Bill Buckner error in the 86 Series, or Carlton Fisk’s shot that was waived fair in the 1976 fall classic, were moments that have had mystique surrounding them. Another great moment of mystique was Babe Ruth’s called shot for the Yankees, in game three of the 1932 World Series against the Cubs. Did Ruth really call his shot? The mystery surrounding that home run may never be solved. However it’s the puzzle that makes that moment even more memorable. Just imagine though for a second that you were in the stands at Wrigley Field, and caught Babe Ruth’s called shot home run ball?
Imagine that if you will. But now imagine a different scenario, but something similar. Perhaps the greatest moment in the history of sports, Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run in the ninth inning of game 1 of the 1988 World Series, to give the Dodgers a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics at Dodger Stadium. Nobody can forget the greatest moment in the history of sports, ever. We can all still close our eyes and hear Vin Scully’s legendary call, or Jack Buck’s. We can still see Gibson limping around the bases, fist pumping as Nancy B. Hefley’s beautiful organ was barely heard over the roar of the crowd. 55,000 Dodger fans celebrated into the night. There has never been a greater moment to be proud to be a Dodger fan. We were champions, and it was glorious. But what if you were at that game? The real question is what ever happened to the Kirk Gibson home run ball?
Perhaps this is one of the greatest mysteries of that great moment. But imagine if you will, that you are sitting in the right field pavilion seats, and you caught the Kirk Gibson home run ball. You have caught The most priceless and precious collectible of all Dodger collectibles. Yeesh. Just imagine. I would hyperventilate. My autograph collecting expert friends like Josh would pass out from joy.
Here is the question though. Whatever happened to the Gibson home run ball? It was never recovered, and nobody ever has come forward with proof of having the ball. It’s a question that has yet to receive an answer. So I decided to do a little investigating of my own. Surely someone out there has to know something. Right?
Well apparently there were other people out there asking the same thing. CNBC Sports business reporter Darren Rovell conducted his own investigation about two years ago. Around that time, some of the collectibles and memorabilia from the Gibson home run was being auctioned off. His Dodger Jersey, bat, batting gloves and other memorabilia was auctioned, all except for the home run ball, which of course was mysteriously absent. Rovell received over 250 emails, and 31 people told him that they had the ball, or knew where it was, but all the leads ended up being dead ends.
There was one lady who actually mailed a picture to Gibson of a bruise on her leg caused by the ball hitting her, as she was sitting in the right field pavilions.
One email from one man states that him and his father were at the game in the right field seats, and after the ball bounced out of the hands of a fan sitting three or four rows behind them, the ball bounced underneath the seat of his father, who picked up the ball. According to the email, the man’s father put the ball in his underwear drawer or something, and later forgot about it. The man said he was 15 at the time when he went to the game with his father, and the ball is somewhere in his drawer with many other Baseballs, and he has forgotten which one it is. Yeah right. Can you imagine having the most priceless Dodger collectible of the last 25 years, and forgetting it in your underwear drawer? Yeesh, somebody please smack me.
One man named Darren Weller of Pennsylvania told Rovell he was at the game with his Dad, and had the ball. He was sent a picture of a 1988 World Series ball signed by the entire Dodger team, but no proof of the actual home run ball. Next….
Then came a note from 19 year old Gary Brisson. Mr. Brisson claims that his friend’s parents had the ball on a display in their den. Apparently they had told him and his friend differing stories of where the ball actually came from. Finally one day Gary overhears his friend’s parents talking to him, and telling him that this was the Kirk Gibson home run ball, and not to tell anyone where it came from because people might break in and steal it and rob their house or something. Way to go telling a story to frighten children. Gary claims he was nine years old at the time, and his friend’s parents have since divorced, and the ball has mysteriously disappeared. Of course it has. I’m sorry Gary, but pass….
Some random Oakland A’s fan wrote in saying he knew a guy who had the ball. Some guy who had gone to the game and had directly claimed to have the ball. According to the source, the guy disappeared, and joined the navy, never to be heard from again. But of course…..
A sargent William Dumas, wrote in to tell Rovell, that the Dodgers had actually had the ball all along. Dumas wrote that he had visited Dodger Stadium back in August of 2010, and that some security guard at Dodger Stadium had possession of the home run ball and had returned it to Kirk Gibson out of respect without asking for anything in return. This is very hard to believe.
One of the weirdest letters came from an anonymous person. Remember the lady that was hit in the leg, and mailed Gibson the pictures of her bruise caused by the home run ball hitting her in the leg? Well read what this mystery person wrote….
I was told about the article on the Internet and decided to turn myself in after all of these years. I am using my son’s e-mail address at the moment as I do not have an e-mail of my own. Twenty two years ago, I was sitting in front of that young lady whose leg was hit. I quickly snatched the ball before anybody noticed me and then I hid it, acting like I was looking just like everyone else. I have kept it hidden, not telling a soul – until now. I believe that this ball has historical significance and therefore will sell the ball for a price. I would not like my name to be released. Just refer to me as ‘Mystery Man’ if you would like. I hope I will not regret this action I have decided to take.”
Well duh the ball has historical significance. I wonder how much it would be worth. Possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rovell was unable to find a phone number for the man, and his emails went unreturned. Kind of Creepy.
Then perhaps came the most damming evidence so far to date. A man named Ed Moran sent Rovell a video of the Kirk Gibson home run. The video was doctored in photoshop to highlighting the travels of the home run ball in slow motion, so that you can follow the path of the ball to see where it lands. According to Moran, his Uncle Carlos, and niece Jasmine were at the game sitting in the right field pavilion. Moran sent the link to his website, which has a picture of his Uncle Carlos, and niece Jasmine, holding up what is supposed to be the home run ball. Is this for real? Was the photo doctored up?
Now if you look at the photo, it appears to be real. The date at the bottom says 10-15-1988, which of course is the date that Gibson hit the home run. Both Carlos and Jasmine appear to be wearing vintage clothes of the era, and it looks like the picture is real, and from 1988. The ball they are holding up is a 1988 World Series ball, as you can plainly see the 88’ World Series logo on the ball. But is that the Gibson ball? Moran insists that it is, and says the photo is not doctored, and that he has the originals to prove it. But does he have the ball?
Well it wouldn’t be a mystery now would it? Moran claims his Uncle Carlos was not a Baseball fan at the time, and put the ball in his sock drawer, until he gave it to his girlfriend. (what the hell Carlos? Well at least he didn’t put in his underwear drawer like the other guy did, but I digress). Apparently according to Moran, the girlfriend said she still has the ball somewhere in her garage. The ball was never recovered.
Moran even wrote to LA Times writer Bill Plaschke, and Dodger historian Mark Langill, both agreed that the story could not be verified. However if you look at the video, Moran points out what his Uncle was wearing, and you can see in the video, that the ball lands virtually right next to Carlos. But did Carlos actually retrieve the ball? We may never know, but this looks like the best evidence to date. Could we have possibly found the real Gibson home run ball?
I would urge Mr. Moran, or anyone else who has info on the whereabouts of the Kirk Gibson home run ball to come out of hiding and show themselves. However perhaps I am wrong. Maybe nobody should ever come forward. Maybe the home run ball should remain missing? This way it preserves the mystery and allure of the greatest moment in Dodger and Baseball history. Maybe, or maybe not. But I do know that these little mysteries of the game that make Baseball and it’s greatest moments even more exciting. Let’s face it everyone loves a good mystery. One of these days, we’ll know what truly happened, but until then, the location of the Kirk Gibson home run ball remains unknown.
On a hilarious parting note, Rovell did discover the true identity of the guy in the car with the break lights seen above the right field bleachers stopping in mid drive during Gibson’s home run as the only car out in the parking lot. Poor Tommy Allen describes his pain…..
“I don’t have the ball, however, I was the ‘poor sucker’ in the parking lot! I was 14 years old at the time and my dad made me and my brothers leave early to catch a flight back home to Salt Lake. Needless to say, I didn’t talk to my dad for a long time. Of course we joke about it now, but it still hurts when I read articles like yours. Thanks for bringing back the pain!”
Yeesh, I feel your pain Tommy. Thank god my Dad knew better than to try and pull anything like that with me when I was a kid. I would have rather hitchhiked home then miss a single moment of that game.
If you or anybody you know has any information on the whereabouts of the Kirk Gibson home run ball, please email Lasorda’s Lair.