Kirk Gibson’s Home Run Ball Is Still Gone, Probably Forever

Kirk Gibson’s Home Run Ball Is Still Gone, Probably Forever

“It would be cool,” Gibson said of one day finding the ball. “But I’ve written it off. It can’t be proven, anyway.”

Gibson remembers the pain from that day, thinking about his parents in attendance, the satisfaction of proving critics wrong with a key hit, and the elation of winning a World Series game. He was too busy to notice where the ball ended up. Nowadays, Gibson, a Michigan native who serves as an analyst for the Detroit Tigers’ television broadcast, said he does not think much about the ball or hear from people claiming to have it.

“Right now, I’m just thinking about the Dodgers and who is going to step up for them to come back against a very good Boston team,” he said, referring to the Dodgers’ 2-0 World Series deficit entering Game 3 here on Friday night.

Today, it is common for fans, if they do not plan to sell it, to at least offer a notable home run ball back to the team or player who hit it in exchange for gear, an autograph, a hello with the player or some tickets, and sometimes even all four. Langill said nobody ever came forward. That was Oct. 15, 1988.

As the legend grew, so did the stories. One man claimed the ball had been sitting on his shelf since he was 15, after he received it as a gift from his father, who attended the game. Another man created a website trying to prove that his uncle caught the ball but that it was later lost in an ex-girlfriend’s garage. Gibson said a woman once sent him a photograph of a bruise on her leg where the home run ball supposedly hit her.

“A lot of people have actually come forward over the years claiming to have this ball, but their stories have been scrutinized, and none of them have been able to be validated,” said Dan Imler, vice president of SCP Auctions, who worked with Gibson on sales of other memorabilia from that game.

The biggest challenge to proving any case involving the ball is the NBC video from the game; fans in the stands look grainy, and cameras quickly cut to Gibson celebrating as he ambled around the bases.

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