Malinowski: In search of baseball’s lost treasures

From SABR member Erik Malinowski at on September 2, 2014:

It was more than 140 years ago, among dusty lots up and down the East Coast, that a more professionalized and sanctioned version of the game came to be, with the formation of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players in 1871. And since that era, countless people and events and moments of great historical import have arisen, one generation after the next. Trillions of memories, most small but some big and a few bigger than life.

But that doesn’t mean we have a terribly reliable grasp on everything concerning the great moments of baseball, that our memories have steeled into any kind of precision incapable of lapses.

There have been numerous instances, often in the most visible and unforgettable moments that lead to historical voids, but that is beyond the banner of “things getting lost,” which happens without end. Bobby Thomson’s home run ball off Ralph Branca that helped the Giants win the pennant (the Giants win the pennant!) was the subject of an entire book. The baseball that Mickey Mantle struck for his oft-celebrated, much-debated 565-foot home run at Griffith Stadium in 1953 was briefly stolen from Yankee Stadium before being returned. The ball that secured the Boston Red Sox’ first World Series title in 86 years was never technically lost, but its very ownership became the source of a protracted tussle between the club and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who temporarily pocketed the keepsake.

These are the well-known artifacts, the ones marked with instant greatness regardless of where they may rest. There are many others, however, that have been lost to time, to the incomplete trivia books that dot our shelves.

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Originally published: September 2, 2014. Last Updated: September 2, 2014.