Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rob a grave for a DiMaggio ball?

If jackhammering a field house wall for a couple of Lou Gehrig’s gloves is more of a challenge than you’re willing to undertake (see entry, May 23), would you consider desecrating a kid’s grave to get a baseball autographed by Joe DiMaggio?

On Aug. 18, 1949, a seven-year-old Arlington, Va., boy named Billy Paxton was killed when he walked into the path of an oncoming automobile near his home.

The boy’s family, remembering his hero-worship of Joe DiMaggio, determined to try to get an autographed baseball to place in the casket. An uncle reached out to Washington radio WTOP sportscaster Arch McDonald and asked if he could – quickly – obtain a ball autographed by DiMaggio.

The broadcaster tracked the Yankee Clipper down at the Philadelphia hotel where the team was staying and after a midnight call, the ball was rushed to the grieving parents in Washington.

“To Billy, from Joe DiMaggio,” the ball was simply inscribed. Billy was buried with his prized autograph near at hand. I’m not going to tempt any heartless collector by naming the cemetery.  

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