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Buckner baseball that dashed Boston Red Sox' 1986 dream sold

By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - The baseball that broke the hearts of Boston Red Sox fans when it rolled through first baseman Bill Buckner's legs during the 1986 World Series sold to an anonymous bidder for $418,250 at auction on Friday, the auction house said.

Buckner's error on a routine ground ball in Game 6 of the series against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York was widely blamed for costing the Red Sox a chance to win what would have been the team's first championship in 68 years.

The Mets scored the winning run on the play and went on to win Game 7 for the title.

"This is the very ball bungled by the star Red Sox first baseman in what is considered by many the most famous single play in American sports history," said Chris Ivy, director of sports memorabilia at Heritage Auctions.

The ball was part of the extensive collection owned previously by pop music songwriter Seth Swirsky.

"The ball represents the best and worst anyone can feel in a single moment in baseball," Swirsky said. "It's about a moment in time, in the 80s, that everyone, and especially baseball fans, remember."

The Red Sox went on to win World Series championships in 2004 and 2007.

Swirsky has been a collector of baseball memorabilia since 1994. He offered his entire collection for sale through Heritage Auctions.

Many other pieces were sold. They included the ball Reggie Jackson hit for his third home run in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers for $65,725, and Babe Ruth's 136th career home-run baseball from 1921 for $25,095.

It also included a letter from baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis in 1923 that denied Chicago White Sox star "Shoeless" Joe Jackson reinstatement to baseball after he was allegedly involved in a conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series. The letter sold for $53,575.

The Los Angeles songwriter said he bought the Buckner ball for $64,000 in 2000 from actor Charlie Sheen, who bought it for $93,000 in 1992.

Swirsky said he was unsuccessful in his attempt to sell his entire collection for $1 million last October.

"It got to the point that I didn't get the same pleasure out of looking at it," he said. "Why keep it in a room or safe deposit box? I want other people to be able to get the same enjoyment out of it that I did, so I decided to sell it."

(Editing by Greg McCune and Peter Cooney)

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