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Monday, September 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports keepsake to hit Roadshow


Spokane resident Bill Bennett's great-great aunt had this ball signed by members of the 1931 New York Yankees.
 (Ingrid Barrentine/ / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane resident Bill Bennett's great-great aunt had this ball signed by members of the 1931 New York Yankees. (Ingrid Barrentine/ / The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokesman-Review

It’s a sure thing that whole a lot of treasures will be taken to the Spokane Convention Center this Saturday to be evaluated by appraisers for the Antiques Roadshow. Family heirlooms and garage sale finds alike will paint a picture of popular culture.

But one Spokane man is hoping to hit a home run.

Bill Bennett has a handful of Americana.

On March 21, 1931, Bennet’s great-great Aunt Minnie, returning to Ohio from a vacation in Florida, stopped by Miller Huggins Field in St. Petersburg where New York Yankees baseball greats like Babe Ruth and Lou Gerig were warming up during spring training.

Family lore has it that Minnie marched up to the Babe and asked the team to sign a baseball for her. They complied.

The baseball, tattooed with a who’s who of future baseball Hall of Fame signatures, was eventually passed down – personally escorted by a relative – to Bennet’s father, who now lives in Portland. When Bennet heard that the Antiques Roadshow was making a stop in Spokane, he applied for tickets and won a pair. The ball was brought out of safe keeping.

Bennett doesn’t just have a one-of-a-kind baseball. He’s also got a handwritten list of the players who signed – Aunt Minnie made careful notes – plus the original box in which the baseball was packaged.

To top it all, he’s got a photo of Aunt Minnie standing beside Ruth.

“When you look at the signatures on the ball, and you think about the careers of the men who signed it, you know this is something special,” Bennett said. “It’s a real piece of history.”

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