SI Vault
 
SI's 25 Lost Treasures
July 11, 2005
In an age when Ty Cobb's dentures have gone up for auction and even checkers has its own hall of fame, you might think every sports collectible had already been collected. But the whereabouts of some key items remain a mystery. A fortune awaits those who can find these Holy Grails
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
July 11, 2005

Si's 25 Lost Treasures

In an age when Ty Cobb's dentures have gone up for auction and even checkers has its own hall of fame, you might think every sports collectible had already been collected. But the whereabouts of some key items remain a mystery. A fortune awaits those who can find these Holy Grails

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2 3

LESTER PATRICK'S GOALIE STICK

With the second game of the 1928 Stanley Cup finals scoreless at Montreal, 44-year-old New York coach Lester Patrick replaced goalie Lorne Chabot, who had been hit in the eye by a puck. Patrick made 18 saves over the final 40 minutes to lift the Rangers to a 2--1 overtime win; New York would defeat the favored Maroons in five games. Experts fear that Patrick's goalie stick--which would be the most valuable in existence--was used until it was broken, then thrown away. ESTIMATED VALUE: $15,000 to $20,000.

O.J. SIMPSON'S HEISMAN TROPHY AND USC JERSEY

On June 17, 1994--the day O.J. Simpson's white Bronco led the LAPD on an hourlong chase--USC officials, fearing vandalism or theft, removed the replica of his 1968 Heisman Trophy and the 32 jersey he wore that year from a display case at Heritage Hall. While Simpson awaited trial on murder charges (he would be acquitted), the trophy and jersey were returned to the case--then stolen a week later. ESTIMATED VALUE: $40,000 to 50,000 for the trophy; $20,000 for the jersey.

WILT CHAMBERLAIN'S 100-POINT BALL

It seems that for each of the record 100 points Wilt Chamberlain scored in Hershey, Pa., on March 2, 1962, there's a conflicting story surrounding the whereabouts of what Leland's auction house then deemed "the most important piece of basketball memorabilia on the face of the earth." Kerry Ryman, now a crane operator, claims that as a 14-year-old he snatched the ball out of Chamberlain's hands after the Knickerbockers-Warriors game, then used it on playgrounds for years. "Wilt scored 100 points with that ball," Ryman has said, "and I scored a couple hundred thousand." Harvey Pollack, then Philadelphia's publicist, and Chamberlain's backup, Joe Ruklick, each say they placed the ball in Wilt's gym bag. Even the Big Dipper had his own account: He'd given it to Warriors teammate Al Attles and wasn't interested in tracking it down. (Attles has denied ever having it.) "It's a mystery," says Basketball Hall of Fame head curator Matt Zeysing, "but not all that surprising. Since 1962 we had what we thought to be Wilt's 25,000th-point-game jersey--and someone recently auctioned off what he claimed to be just that." ESTIMATED VALUE: $600,000. (Ryman's relic went for $551,000 at a Leland's auction in 2000. Because of suspicions about its authenticity, the house suspended the sale; the ball was reauctioned six months later for $67,791.)

SECRETARIAT'S DERBY SADDLE SILK

In 1973, when Secretariat won the Triple Crown in charismatic fashion, it was a good bet that Big Red souvenirs would be of value. Many items sold in a '99 Sotheby's auction, but some key pieces have never turned up. The most coveted? The saddle cloth Secretariat wore at the Kentucky Derby. According to Leonard Lusky, the president of Secretariat.com, jockey Ron Turcotte handed the cloth embroidered with 1A to a Churchill Downs valet after the race. Three years ago a man calling himself Gus phoned Lusky and Turcotte claiming to be that valet, but he has yet to set up a meeting. Says Lusky, "Maybe he's just too sentimental to sell it." ESTIMATED VALUE: $250,000.

EVANDER HOLYFIELD'S EAR CHUNK

Trailing Evander Holyfield in the third round of their 1997 WBA heavyweight title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Mike Tyson, while in a clinch, spit out his mouthpiece and took a bite out of the champ's right ear. After referee Mills Lane disqualified Tyson for taking a second bite, the employee in charge of maintaining the ring scooped the inch-long otic chunk off the mat and into a latex glove, which was put in ice. Holyfield and his ear traveled in an ambulance to Valley Hospital, but along the way, the glove was misplaced. The ear hasn't been seen since. ESTIMATED VALUE: $5,000.

Continue Story
1 2 3