Last month two teenage boys pilfered a Babe Ruth autographed baseball from a Florida memorabilia store. The youths, later apprehended with other stolen goods, tossed the $6,000 ball into a dumpster, whence it was carted off to an ignoble end. That made it a busy year for Ruthian oddments. In May a uniform he wore in Pride of the Yankees (the size-50 shirt was also seen on Lou Costello in the filmed version of Who's on First?) was taken from a parked car in New York City and later recovered by police. And, also in New York, the Official All Star Cafe is about to be lent a valuable memorabilia collection from actor Charlie Sheen that includes the Babe's 1927 World Series ring. But not only Ruth relics have met with strange fates this decade.
After some expert conning, two collectors march out of Negro leagues legend Cool Papa Bell's home in St. Louis with uniforms, photographs and other memorabilia worth as much as $300,000. The keepsakes are recovered, and charges of interstate transportation of stolen property against one of the men are dropped after a mistrial.
University of Kentucky pranksters sneak inside Cameron Indoor Stadium and steal the retired jerseys of Duke stars Johnny Dawkins, Danny Ferry and Christian Laettner. Before that, the Blue Devils' 1991 national-championship game ball had turned up on the North Carolina campus. But the Devils got their due—everything's back in place...for now.
Lasse Viren, the great Finnish distance runner, offers to sell his four Olympic gold medals because "what does it matter if they're with me or somewhere else?"
An NFL ring belonging to 56-year-old former New York Jet Peter Perreault is stolen off his finger as he lies semiconscious in a hospital. After the ring is pawned, police trace it to Charles Willard, a temporary employee at the hospital.
One week after a ceremony during which the number of the recently deceased Reggie Lewis was added to a banner honoring retired Boston Celtics, the banner disappears from the Boston Garden rafters. A 16-year-old boy who sneaked along a catwalk to steal it boasts to schoolmates. Someone snitches, and police find it stuffed in a duffel bag in the kid's bedroom.
A 35-pound O.J. Simpson bust stolen from the Pro Football Hall of Fame during Simpson's murder trial is found by a highway maintenance crew in northeastern Ohio. It's later bolted back in place at the hall.
Shortly after Mickey Mantle's death, a former Yankee Stadium security guard is arrested for peddling on the Internet a bronze bust commemorating the slugger's 500th home run. The bust had been yanked off a pillar beyond the rightfield wall during the renovation of the stadium in the mid-'70s.