Next month, a Dallas auction will offer one of the world's most famous - or infamous - pieces of baseball memorabilia.
The 1986 World Series defeat to the New York Mets remains a painful memory for Boston Red Sox fans, and one item in particular became an iconic symbol of the 'Curse of the Bambino' - the 'Buckner Ball'.
After leading 3 games to 2 in the series, the Red Sox lost game six due to a blunder by first baseman Bill Buckner. A hit by Mookie Wislon saw the ball slip past his glove and through his legs, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run during the extra innings and cementing Buckner's place in baseball history for all the wrong reasons.
"This is the very ball bungled by the star Red Sox first baseman in what is considered by many the most famous single play in American Sports history," says Chris Ivy, the auction house's Director of Sports Memorabilia. The ball was previously owned by the actor and baseball fanatic Charlie Sheen, who purchased it at auction in 1992, and is currently part of the collection of songwriter Seth Swirsky.
The Buckner Ball, valued at $100,000+, is just one of the incredible pieces from Swirsky's collection that will appear at the auction on May 3 - 5. Other notable items include the home run ball hit by Babe Ruth to become the Home Run King in July 1921, valued at $50,000+, and the ball hit by Reggie Jackson for his thrid home run in the 1977 World Series valued at $20,000+.
The sale will also feature an amazing collection of eight balls signed by the Bambino during his final public appearance in 1948.
"For the better part of six-and-a-half decades these baseballs have been stored in a climate-controlled safe deposit box," says Ivy, "and have emerged effectively unchanged from their encounter with the dying baseball icon. The condition of these balls is truly fantastic and we expect collectors will respond with broad enthusiasm when they cross the block."
As anyone with an eye on the memorabilia markets can tell you, there's no bigger name in sports memorabilia than Babe Ruth. His items regularly sell for six or even seven-figure sums, due to his iconic place in American cultural history, and he remains the most sought-after figure for baseball collectors.
Baseball memorabilia is a multi-million dollar business, and time and time again collectors have demonstrated their devotion to 'America's pastime' by paying record prices at auction. The sale in Dallas next month could see a few more records broken, although perhaps not by Red Sox fans.
For collectors looking to invest in some historic sporting memorabilia, you can find our superb selection of autographs and signed items here.