View Full Version : First Turner Field HR Lawsuit

04-23-2006, 10:47 PM
Lost baseball lands in court. To put it in baseball lingo, this hard-hit ball is “going ... going ...GONE.”

In this case, the baseball is just plain gone, and Atlanta Braves fan Charles “Chuck” Austin wants to know where.

On the night of April 4, 1997, Austin and his family were part of the sellout crowd cheering the Braves to victory in their first game at the just-opened Turner Field.

Michael Tucker, then an outfielder for the home team, slammed the first homer, into the right field stands and Austin’s eager hands.

Austin’s sons, Cody, then 5, and C.J., then 11, who was wearing his baseball glove, were there to witness their dad’s catch.

“We were all tickled,” Austin said Wednesday from his home in Kings Mountain, N.C. “I always said I’d be happy just to catch a foul ball.”

In 1999, Austin, 48, a masonry contractor, loaned his cherished sphere of sports history for fans to enjoy at the stadium’s Braves Museum and Hall of Fame. The Atlanta History Center, which lists “conserving historic assets” as one of its duties, managed the Braves’ exhibits until 2002.

But the center didn’t keep its eye on the ball, according to a lawsuit Austin filed this month in Fulton County Superior Court.

Two years ago, Austin got a letter from center officials, informing him his precious ball had gone missing and an investigation was in progress. Before Austin loaned out his historic trophy, he and center officials signed an agreement to insure the ball for $200,000, according to his lawsuit.

Center officials have offered Austin $1,750 to cover his loss, a pitch that sports memorabilia expert Richard Bond considers low and inside.

“It’s definitely worth more than that. Absolutely, no doubt,” said Bond, director of acquisitions for Lelands auction house in New York. He said Austin called him recently to ask how much Bond thinks the ball is worth. Bond estimated it could go for $5,000 or even $10,000 to an enthusiastic sports fan.

Center spokeswoman Hillary Hardwick declined to comment but indicated the center is consulting with lawyers and gearing up to play ball — in court.

04-24-2006, 12:48 AM
As much as I hate to say it, it's almost never a good idea to loan game used / worn items or other unique, vintage memorabilia to sports museums. I've heard far too many stories of mishandling, damage, theft, and loss. It's a shame. While the management of such places no doubt have the best of intentions, there are too many folks who come into contact with the items on display who may have bad intentions or who are simply careless with how they treat these items.