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No Sign of Ball That Bears Autographs of Presidents : Collectibles: Souvenir has been missing since Clinton's visit to Santa Ana Boys and Girls Club in September.

November 04, 1995|DEXTER FILKINS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Something's afoul with the presidential baseball.

The mysterious disappearance of a baseball autographed by several U.S. Presidents--and last seen under the pen of President Clinton--has people scratching their heads from coast to coast.

Clinton was asked to sign the coveted ball by an unidentified collector when the President visited the Santa Ana Boys and Girls Club six weeks ago. The ball was said to already have the signatures of Presidents Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon. Clinton, as best anyone can tell, happily complied with the request.

Then the ball vanished. And no one has been able to find it.

So says John Brewster, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club. Brewster said he got a call this week from Taco Bell, the Irvine-based corporation that hosted Clinton's visit, wanting to know the ball's whereabouts. The Santa Ana police called Friday.

"They said this ball is missing," Brewster said. "For some reason they thought we could help identify the person who took it."

Whose ball was it?

Taco Bell isn't saying.

"We have no information available at this time," said Jonathan Blum, Taco Bell vice president.

Agents with the Secret Service say they're baffled.

"Highly unusual," said Eric Harnischfeger of the Secret Service. "I know nothing about it."

"I haven't heard about it," said Josh Silverman of the White House.

The President spoke to a crowd of about 5,000 in the field next to the Boys and Girls Club when he came to town Sept. 22. The subject: fighting crime.

Before the speech, the President sat in the aerobics room and signed several balls, a piece of stationery for the club to auction and other items for charity groups. Apparently, the items were left behind when the President went to the podium. When people came back later, only the ball was gone.

"The general public could not have walked in there," Brewster said. "The police had it blocked off."

Brewster said he first heard the ball was missing after the President's visit.

Historical oddities are hard to value, but some local collectors say any object with that many signatures on it is worth a lot of money.

Steve Pattillo of Brewart's Stamps and Coins in Anaheim values the ball at $5,000. "That would be a very valuable ball."

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