By Gary Anderson
May 16 2014 ISN – Jimmy Stewart Jr is auctioning the ball used by his father in the 1936 Olympic Games basketball gold medal match ©Heritage AuctionsThe original ball used in the 1936 Berlin Olympics basketball gold medal game between the United States and Canada will go on auction in Baltimore, where it is hoped to fetch between $250,000 (£149,000/€183,000) and $500,000 (£298,000/€366,000).
The ball, which is said to be lumpy, deflated and “stitched together like a volleyball”, is being put on auction by Jimmy Stewart Jr, whose father Jimmy Stewart was part of the Canadian team that lost to the United States 19-8 in the first ever Olympic Games basketball final in Berlin.
The match was played outdoors during a downpour and following the game, Stewart took the ball as a souvenir along with his silver medal with his wife hiding it under her dress before making their way back to Canada on a ferry, according to the Kansas City Star.
Stewart died in 1990 and the ball has remained in the possession of his son ever since, but he is now putting it up for auction.
The 75-year-old had tried to sell it at auction last year claiming it was to help fund college fees for his 11 grandchildren, but the sale fell through following promotional issues.
But, through connections, Stewart Jr has handed the ball over to a promoter in Overland Park, Kansas called Keith Zimmerman, who is going to handle the sale of the ball at a sports memorabilia auction in Baltimore.
It is set to take place on July 11, coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth’s first Major League Baseball (MLB) game.
Zimmerman says he is confident the ball, which has the markings of manufacturer Berg on one side and “Basket-Ball” on the other, will command a six-figure sum.
One of Jesse Owens’ gold medals from the same Olympic Games in Berlin was sold at auction last year for $1.4 million (£836,000/€1.02 million).
The ball has resided with Stewart and Stewart Jr in Windsor, Ontario since 1936.
Stewart Jr claims he wants to keep the ball in Canada and should it not be sold, he says he has arranged for it to be kept in the Windsor Essex County Hall of Fame, where his father was inducted in 1989 a year before he died.
The 14 members of Canada’s 1936 Olympic team were all said to hail from Windsor.
“It’s an incredible piece of sports history,” Zimmerman told the Kansas City Star, adding that if it was bought by an American, an ideal situation would be for the ball to spend an equal amount of time with its new owner and back in Windsor.
“The ball has never resided in the United States,” he said.
“It’s a chance for an American to buy it and bring it home.