DALLAS – The baseball that rolled through the legs of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series was sold at auction Friday for $418,250.
Heritage Auctions said the ball was sold to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous. The sale price includes the buyer's premium.
Buckner hit .289 with 2,715 hits in 22 years and had more than 100 RBIs in two of his three full seasons with the Red Sox. But he is remembered by most for his error at Shea Stadium that night when Mookie Wilson's grounder rolled through his legs, allowing the New York Mets to cap a two-out rally in Game 6 with a victory in the 10th inning.
The Mets went on to win the series and Boston's championship drought that dated to 1918 last another 18 years, until 2004.
"It really embodies the emotion of sports," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage. "That ball symbolizes both the thrill of victory for the Mets and the agony of defeat for the Red Sox fans. It really brings out a lot of emotion."
The ball was the centerpiece of an auction featuring the baseball memorabilia collection of Los Angeles songwriter Seth Swirsky that drew more than $1.2 million.
"It was a great battle between two great cities — two great baseball cities. I think that it goes above and beyond baseball to it's an American culture piece," said Swirsky, who co-wrote the hit "Tell It To My Heart" by Taylor Dayne, and has multiple hits with Celine Dion, Olivia Newton-John and Al Green.
After the ball rolled through Buckner's legs, it was picked up by right field umpire Ed Montague, who put a tiny "x'' near a seam to mark it. Montague then gave the ball to Mets executive Arthur Richman. Wilson signed it to Richman, writing: "To Arthur, the ball won it for us, Mookie Wilson, 10/25/86." As the ball made its way around the clubhouse, someone kissed it, leaving a tobacco stain.
Charlie Sheen bought the ball for more than $93,000 in 1992. Swirsky purchased it for nearly $64,000 in 2000.
Swirsky offered the ball up on eBay last October for $1 million but got no takers. He said though that the eBay offering — done on a whim after he realized he could close the bidding on Oct. 25, 2011, the 25th anniversary of Game 6 — made him realize he would be OK with selling his entire collection.
Other offerings from Swirsky included Reggie Jackson's third home run ball from Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, which earned him the title "Mr. October." That sold for $65,725.
Babe Ruth's 136th career home run baseball from 1921 sold for $25,095. A 1923 letter signed by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis denying reinstatement of "Shoeless Joe" Jackson brought in $53,775.
The Texas Rangers cap Jose Canseco was wearing in 1993 when a ball hit by Cleveland Indian Carlos Martinez bounced off Canseco's head and then over the outfield wall for an assisted homer brought in $11,950.
Also, a 1965 baseball signed by the Beatles from the Shea Stadium concert sold for $65,725.
Buckner was traded to the Red Sox by the Chicago Cubs in May 1984 and released in July 1987. He rejoined them in 1990 then retired after 22 games.
Swirsky, who while growing up on Long Island developed a love for the Mets and New York Yankees, said that he remembers watching the 1986 Game 6 with his father. He said that the person who bought the Buckner ball is in for a "great ride."
"Once somebody points out that they have the ball, people will surround them at every party, telling them their experiences of where they were," Swirsky said.
Heritage Auctions: http://www.ha.com