They are out there—or perhaps they are nowhere. They sit in attics, cellars or in some forgotten corner of a museum. Some have been destroyed or lost.
Indeed, the 1857 “Rules of Baseball,” the first document that sets bases 90 feet apart, puts nine players on a side and specifies that the game should end after nine innings (not when the first team scores 21 runs), only recently turned up in the desk drawer of a Texas man who had bid $12,650 for them in 1999. Collector John Thorn calls the document “baseball’s Magna Carta.” The handiwork of Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, president of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club, the document could draw bids of more than $1 million when it is auctioned this month.
Call them sports treasures. There are bats used by sluggers, jerseys of Hall of Fame players, trophies won by championship teams or rare trading cards that elude even the most diligent of collectors.
Did Muhammad Ali really throw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River out of disgust for the way he was treated by Louisville’s white population or did he simply lose it? If it’s not at the bottom of the Ohio, where is it?
Here is an updated list of Lost Treasures that Sports Illustrated originally published in July 2005.