Notre Dame’s ‘Gipper Game’ football to beat $15,000?

The football used in the November 10, 1928 “Gipper Game” between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the US Army will appear in an upcoming sale at Heritage Auctions.

The Army team was totally undefeated when the Fighting Irish squared up to them at Yankee Stadium on that cold afternoon in November.  

Gipper Notre Dame

The game pitted the Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the undefeated Army team

By halftime, the college side were losing badly. That’s when coach Nute Rockne delivered a deeply moving speech – exhorting them to “win just one for the Gipper”.

The speech had such an effect, that Notre Dame went out and smashed the Army 12-6.

So who, or what, was the Gipper?

George Gipp was a halfback for Notre Dame between 1917-1920. Tragically, he died from a strep throat infection in 1920 at the age of 25.  

Rockne told the team that Gipp had said to him on his deathbed: “...when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper.

“I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."

Now, it’s unlikely that Gipp ever made that speech. But Rockne most certainly did.

Interestingly, Ronald Reagan would play George Gipp in the 1940 movie "Knute Rockne, All American". He later encourage George HW Bush to "win one for the Gipper" in his 1988 campaign. 

This ball features signatures from 40 members of the team (including Rockne) and is sold alongside a program from the historic game.

It’s valued at upwards of $15,000.

Other balls from historic football games have sold for surprising sums in the past. In 2015, the ball used in the 1916 Cumberland vs Georgia Tech game (that ended in 222-0 defeat for Cumberland) sold for $40,338.  

The sale will also include Jackie Robinson's rookie season jersey, valued at $3m up. 

You can check out all our sports memorabilia for sale here.

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