First Olympic gold-medal game basketball for sale

Jimmy Stewart
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The 1936 Olympic basketball gold-medal game ball is set for auction. Again.

The U.S. beat Canada 19-8 in the first Olympic gold-medal basketball game at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, in front of the sport’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith.

A Canadian player wound up with the game ball after the contest played in a downpour, outdoors on a court of clay and sand that had turned into mud. The player, Jimmy Stewart, took it as a souvenir to go along with his silver medal. The story goes that his wife hid it under her dress on their way out.

Stewart’s son has the ball now. Jimmy Jr., 75, tried to sell it last year, for reportedly at least $150,000 to fund his 11 grandchildren’s college aspirations. But the item never hit the block due to promotional issues.

Now, it’s set to be part of a sports memorabilia auction in Baltimore on the weekend of July 11, marking the 100-year anniversary of Babe Ruth‘s first MLB game. The starting bid will be $50,000 and it is expected to fetch between $250,000-$500,000, promoter Keith Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman, of Overland Park, Kan., received the ball from Stewart five weeks ago and has traveled with it in a special case that resembles a satchel. He has consulted with NBA Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist Oscar Robertson about the auction and taken the ball to Allen Fieldhouse at the University of Kansas to the Jayhawks basketball team.

The ball has been reported to be lumpy, deflated and “stitched together like a volleyball.”

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