October 15th, 1988. Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, you know what happens next. One of the most famous home runs in baseball history. One of, if not Vin Scully’s greatest call of his career. “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.” – Vin Scully. One thing from that night is still missing to this day, the famous home run ball.
Mark Langill, Dodgers team historian said “For the last 30 years, the ball has been just folklore.” He went on to say “Everything else is accounted for, as far as the bat and the jersey and things like that. The ball just kind of disappeared.” How can one of the biggest moments in baseball history be missing something so crucial. Where did the baseball go?
The biggest problem is the video is from 1988. The NBC broadcast doesn’t clearly show where the ball landed and who may have caught it. The camera also quickly turns to Gibson as he is rounding the bases so we never see the continuous shot of who caught it. In a phone interview with The New York Times, Kirk Gibson said “It would be cool” about the possibility of getting the ball back. He later went on to say “But I’ve written it off. It can’t be proven anyway”. Since it’s been over 30 years since the famous home run was hit, how can the ball even be authenticated? How can someone legitimately prove that this is the ball and be able to back it up?
Darrell Rovell from CNBC received more than 250 emails of tips and nearly a dozen people claiming to have the ball, or know the whereabouts of the ball. One person said “The guy three or four rows in back of us tried to catch it, but it bounced out of his bare hands. It rolled under the seats and my dad picked it up. We were so excited about the homer, so the ball was not a huge deal. We had gotten many balls over the years. My dad gave me the ball when we got home. I put it on my shelf with the others. I still have most of the balls in a box, a dozen or so. One problem: I’m not sure which one is ‘the ball’ “. Another person reached out, Darren Weller from Pennsylvania says he went to the game with his dad. His evidence is a 1988 World Series baseball signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has no further evidence. A woman once sent Gibson a photo of a bruise on her leg where she claims the ball hit her. She doesn’t actually possess the ball or have any further tips of the whereabouts of the ball. One person created a website claiming that his uncle caught the ball and it was later lost in an ex girlfriend’s garage. The ball could be worth anywhere between $300,000 – $400,000 but with no way of authenticating the ball, it may never be proven to be ‘The ball’.
With the whole world knowing what that baseball is worth, of course everyone will step up and say they have the ball. We will hear many stories about people claiming to have caught it just to get fame or money from it. It’s been over 31 years since the home run and with no clear video evidence, we will never know where or who possesses one of the most prestigious baseballs in history.