Michigan woman auctions autographed baseballs for charity

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – Jane Bell has spent years fighting crowds and slipping into dugouts to expand her prized collection of autographed baseballs.

Now the 83-year-old suburban Detroit woman is letting charity benefit from all her hard work. On Saturday, 136 of her baseballs were auctioned off for more than $6,000, which will benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Recalling the hard work she put into collecting the balls, Bell decided to hang onto one last remnant of her hobby – a personalized gift from Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris in 1986.

Morris wrote: “To Jane Bell, my best to you, to a loyal Tiger fan.”

The resident of Wayne County’s Canton Township started accumulating the baseballs in the early 1980s.

Over the years, she has fought crowds, negotiated hotel lobbies and maneuvered her way into dugouts and stadium press boxes to persuade baseball’s elite to sign memorabilia for her.

“People don’t understand the hard work that’s involved, and (everything) you have to deal with,” she told The Detroit News.

Bell said she hoped to bring in $3,000-$5,000 through the charity auction.

Randall Paul, an appraiser and auctioneer, said that’s a reasonable goal. He said he is impressed by Bell’s generosity.

“It’s really a wonderful thing,” Paul said. “To me it’s overwhelming.”

The most expensive autographed balls sold were ones with autographs of Mickey Mantle ($500), Joe DiMaggio ($400), Al Kaline ($350), and Yogi Berra ($200).

Bell’s collection was more valuable than others Paul dealt with in the past because it had each autograph on an official Major League Baseball ball.

Bell said she doesn’t collect autographed balls with the same fervor she once did. Her last autographs were of Miguel Cabrera and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez about three years ago.

She said she has been a Tigers season-ticket holder since 1984, attending all 81 home games each year. She said she expects to be in Lakeland, Fla., in a few months for her 26th consecutive spring training.

Bell said her loyalty has nothing to do with how the Tigers are doing any particular year.

“Listen, if I can sit through when they lost 119 games (in 2003), I can sit through anything,” she said.


Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/

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