There was something different about the baseball these Scouts were tossing back and forth.
The year was 1948. The place: a crowded gym in Larchmont, N.Y.
Eagle Scout Jack Coughlin, then the 20-something Scoutmaster of Troop 6 out of Larchmont, had to confiscate the ball so nobody got injured.
But this wasn’t any baseball, Coughlin realized. It was signed by Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat for the New York Yankees. The inscription read “To Troop 6 Larchmont Boy Scouts.”
When Coughlin asked the Scouts about the autograph, they said they assumed all baseballs were signed like that.
Nearly 70 years later, this baseball has found its way from Troop 6’s equipment box to the Steiner Sports auction house.
It’s expected to fetch between $10,000 and $15,000. Proceeds will be split between Coughlin, now the ball’s official owner, and the Westchester-Putnam Council, which serves Scouts in southeastern New York State.
Not just any baseball
Back in the gym, Coughlin examined the scuffed baseball. He saw it was signed by The Great Bambino himself. The legendary ballplayer died in 1948 — the same year Coughlin came across the ball.
Coughlin later learned this was a Babe Ruth home run ball. Apparently it had been donated to the troop by a Scout’s dad.
Rather than encasing it in glass, though, someone in Troop 6 had simply tossed it into the troop’s equipment box.
The troop committee asked Coughlin to track down the ball’s rightful owner, but he struck out. And so the troop gave Coughlin the ball to thank him for his service as Scoutmaster.
Collecting dust, gaining value
Coughlin first kept the baseball in a drawer. Then, when he got married, he moved it to a safe deposit box.
Fast-forward 70 years later, and Coughlin again hunted for the ball’s owner. No luck.
Coughlin contacted an attorney, who confirmed that Coughlin was the ball’s rightful owner. The troop had given it to him as a gift, and it was his.
So Coughlin contacted Steiner Sports to see whether the ball had any value. That led to this auction, now online and set to end Nov. 18. Bidding started at $1,000.
The winner will get more than a piece of baseball memorabilia. He or she will be supporting Scouting, too.
Thanks to Dustin Farris for the blog post idea.