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10 Crazy Prices Paid for Sports Memorabilia

Bill Buckner's misplayed 1986 World Series ball
Selling price: $418,250

All is forgiven in Boston now, but with Boston clinging to a one-run lead in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and one New York Mets out away from its first World Series title since 1918, things got ominous when a wild pitch went all the way to the backstop, allowing the Mets' Kevin Mitchell to tie things up. We'll let announcing legend Vin Scully explain how the Mets' Mookie Wilson avoided disaster and Ray Knight found his way home:

So the winning run is at second base, with two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson. [A] little roller up along first ... behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!

Though some Bostonians will point to some polite applause Buckner received when he came back to the Red Sox for a cup of coffee as a free agent in 1990, Buckner held pariah status in that town until 2004, when the Sox finally won their first World Series title. In fact, the Red Sox didn't bring Buckner back to Fenway Park until Opening Day 2008, when they'd just put a second World Series win between their organization and Buckner's misplay.

Never mind that those 1986 Red Sox still had a full Game 7 to redeem themselves, only to blow it. Pre-2004 Boston has crystal-clear memories of Game 6 events -- think Carlton Fisk's 10th inning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series -- but little memory of the Game 7 (a 4-3 loss to the Reds in 1975) that follows. Never mind that that it wasn't Buckner who got Mitchell home on a wild pitch or blew a two-run lead earlier that inning or couldn't get that out the Sox needed for several batters before Wilson. Buckner was doomed to life as a scapegoat because blaming one guy is easy.

This works out particularly well for memorabilia collectors, however, as that one iconic moment basically became the 1986 World Series. After the ball rolled through Buckner's legs, it was picked up by right field umpire Ed Montague, who put a tiny ''x'' near a seam to mark it. Montague then gave the ball to Mets executive Arthur Richman, Wilson signed it to Richman, writing: ''To Arthur, the ball won it for us, Mookie Wilson, 10/25/86.'' Someone in the Mets dugout even left a tobacco-juice stain on the ball after kissing it.

The ball started its journey outside the Mets organization in 1992, when Charlie Sheen bought it for more than $93,000. It diminished in value a bit by the time songwriter Seth Swirsky bought it for nearly $64,000 in 2000, but found new life at Heritage Auctions in Dallas last year. The new owner remains anonymous, but the change in the Red Sox fortunes since 1986 cost him or her a huge price for a ball Buckner likely wanted destroyed.
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