Final Yankee Stadium home run ball among items pulled off block after low bids

Updated: October 19, 2008, 9:35 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Not even Yankee pride can overcome the poor economy.

The last ball hit out of Yankee Stadium didn't leave the auction block Saturday in a memorabilia auction celebrating Bronx Bombers history.

The ball, smacked by catcher Jose Molina on Sept. 21, was one of several big ticket items that failed to sell in early bidding at Madison Square Garden on a trove of Yankees artifacts.

It was expected to fetch up to $400,000, but was pulled after offers fell short of the suggested opening bid of $100,000.

[+] EnlargeJose Molina
AP Photo/Julie JacobsonJose Molina's homer was the last one hit in Yankee Stadium, but it couldn't draw a high enough minimum bid to be auctioned off.

At least one fan on hand for the sale was disappointed.

"I was at that game. I sat in the upper deck up in right field," said Scott Melman, 24, of Manhattan. "I was hoping to see that ball go."

A collection of 15 World Series and American League championship rings that once belonged to former Yankees owner Del Webb was also pulled by the Guernsey's auction house after the high bid of $325,000 fell short of expectations.

The gold rings from 1947 to 1964 had been expected to sell for up to $700,000.

More than 400 items linked to the storied franchise were on the block, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig's insurance policies, old ticket boxes and game balls, and more than 100 architectural drawings of the original Yankee Stadium.

More than half of the items came from a New Jersey collector.

About 100 people came to the Garden and bid several hundreds of dollars for baseball card vending machines, pictures of Yankee Stadium under construction and posters signed by Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.

Mickey Mantle's 1949 Plymouth convertible, expected to fetch between $50,000 and $70,000, sold for $34,000.

Also failing to sell Saturday was a three-page handwritten letter that Mantle wrote to his then-fiancee in 1951, a month after his arrival in New York City.

A 1918 pitching incentive agreement for Ruth was expected to fetch bids as high as $900,000, but failed to reach the minimum of $750,000 and did not sell. The stained, handwritten document offers Ruth an extra $1,000 if he won 24 games, and $2,000 if he won 30 games in the 1918 season.

"It brings memories back of when I was a kid," said Joseph Pierre, 70, peering through glass at photographs of DiMaggio. And Pierre doesn't even root for the Yankees.

"I'm a Dodger fan," he said, "but I love baseball."

Molina's home run ball, hit in the Yankees' 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 21, was caught in the stands by Wyoming state legislator Steve Harshman.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press