Posted: 6:00 am Friday, August 22nd, 2014
By Ken Sugiura
As of noon Friday, the bidding for what is believed to be the game ball from Georgia Tech’s 222-0 win over Cumberland held at $15,700, almost triple the $5,000 opening bid.
The bidding may skyrocket before the auction ends late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, which, if it hasn’t happened already, could squash Tech’s hopes to secure the historic ball.
The ball was put up for auction Aug. 6 by a southern California auction house. For decades, it had belonged to the LA84 Foundation, a non-profit that funds youth sports in southern California and studies the role of sport in society. The foundation inherited the ball as a part of a collection of artifacts from a Los Angeles sports museum opened in the 1930’s. The museum received it from a sports collector named Bill Schroeder. The foundation is selling it as a fund-raiser.
Terry Melia, a spokesman for SCP Auctions, wrote in an e-mail that “the auction bidding takes on a life of its own during the final 24 hours.” The auction closes open bidding Saturday at 10 p.m. EDT. However, at that point, anyone who has already made a bid can continue bidding on any item he or she has already bid on during what is called the “extended bidding period.” Melia wrote that that session typically lasts six or seven more hours. It ends only when no bids are made on any item in the entire lot for 15 minutes.
As an example of how frenetic the final 24 hours of an auction can be, Melia gave the example of a gold medal won by Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin that went up for auction last fall. The bidding went from $400,000 to $1,466,574 in the final day.
At nearly $15,000, the ball may have already eclipsed Tech’s ability to bid for the ball. While Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski said on the day the auction began that the athletic department intended to bid for the ball, he also said that Tech was not in a position to get into a bidding war over the ball and that “it would be spectacular” if someone with Tech ties would be inclined to win the ball and put the ball on display at Tech and/or at the College Football Hall of Fame, which opens Saturday.