Stolen baseball signed by Babe Ruth returned to rightful owner

July 21, 1993
share with facebook
share with twitter

AUSTIN, Texas -- Thanks to police persistence and an honest man, a 9-year-old boy has been reunited with his prized possession -- a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth that was stolen last year during a burglary.

The ball was returned to Graham Williamson by Clive Hartsfield, who bought it for $80 from an elderly man who approached him at an Austin coffee shop last March.

Graham's mother, Mona Williamson, said, 'We never expected to see it again.' When Hartsfield turned up at the boy's home with the ball on Monday, he said Graham 'was so excited I thought he was going to jump through the window.'

The improbable series of events began just before Christmas, when the ball was taken during the burglary of Graham's home in Austin. Ruth signed the ball in the mid-1930s for Graham's great-grandfather, and it had been passed down through four generations. According to a trading price guide, the ball was worth $3,500.

Police Sgt. Chester Johnson worked overtime to solve the case, tracking it to a South Austin trading card shop in February. But the ball was stolen again before he could recover it, and then all the leads dried up.

Then in March, Hartsfield was approached by an elderly man who said he had a fantastic offer -- a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth. He suspected the ball had been stolen, paid the $80 asking price, then turned to Herman Goucher, a friend and former prosecutor with extensive police contacts. Goucher then got in touch with police and the ball was returned on Monday.

Trending Stories