NEW YORK -- Like most medical students, Michael Gott has a lot of student debt. Unlike most medical students, his family possesses the baseball that Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig hit for a home run during the 1928 World Series. Not for long, though, because Gott's mother is selling the ball to help pay off her son's loans.
By early Friday, bidding for the famous ball had reached more than $33,000, but Hunt Auctions of Exton, Penn., which is handling the sale, expects to fetch $100,000 to $200,000 for the ball, which flew into the bleachers on Oct. 5, 1928, in the second game of the series.
"It should be in the hands of someone who really loves it and has a passion for it," Gott's mother, Elizabeth Gott, told the Associated Press. "Right now we have a passion for my son and his career."
According to a description of the ball on the Hunt Auctions website, the ball is extraordinarily valuable for a number of reasons: It has been in the hands of the same family for 84 years. It comes with accompanying newspaper articles detailing the famous hit and the manner in which the ball fell into the hands of a young man named Buddy Kurland, who was Elizabeth Gott's great-uncle. And it involved some of baseball's most legendary players.
Babe Ruth was among the Yankee teammates on base when Gehrig hit the three-run homer, helping the Yankees to a 9-3 victory over St. Louis. New York went on to win the series, but Gehrig's career was cut short when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disease that killed him in 1941 and that is now referred to commonly as Lou Gehrig's disease.
For years, the baseball sat on display in the window of Buddy Kurland's shop in South Manchester, Conn., but eventually it ended up in a drawer in Elizabeth Gott's Stamford, Conn., home. With her 30-year-old son's medical school loans nearing $200,000, she said, it seemed like the right time to sell the ball.
While valuable, the ball isn't nearly as pricey as some other bits of baseball history. According to Hunt, its sales in recent years have included a 1933 All-Star Game inaugural home run baseball that sold for $805,000, as well as Babe Ruth's 702nd home run ball from 1934, which fetched $264,500 at auction.
“I think what we enjoy about handling pieces like this is they really … bear the significance of baseball within American culture in the last 100-plus years,” Hunt president David Hunt told the AP. "Unlike any other sport, baseball has that just unbelievably storied history.”
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