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The 1928 World Series was a rematch of the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals won the 1926 Series, 4 games to 3. But the Yankees swept the '28 series in four games, thanks in part to four home runs by Lou Gehrig. A homer Gehrig hit in game 2 sold for $62,617 at auction on July 10. The proceeds will help pay off the student debt of orthopedic resident Michael Gott, MD. Photos courtesy of Hunt Auctions

Lou Gehrig home-run ball helps put dent in doctor’s student debt

A baseball hit by the Yankees slugger during the 1928 World Series brings in $62,617 at auction.

By — Posted July 20, 2012

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With a swing of his bat, baseball legend Lou Gehrig helped reduce the student debt of Michael Gott, MD.

A home-run ball smashed by Gehrig in game 2 of the 1928 World Series sold at auction for $62,617 on July 10 — nearly 84 years later.

The ball was expected to sell for between $100,000 and $200,000, money the Gott family planned to use to erase Dr. Gott’s $200,000 in medical school debt. The Gotts didn’t get the windfall they wanted, but they’re still satisfied.

“It’s very difficult to be disappointed at any money at all,” said Dr. Gott, a fifth-year orthopedic resident at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital in New York. “Sixty thousand dollars is great and, hopefully, that will make a big dent in my high-interest loans.”

On Oct. 5, 1928, the New York Yankees were playing the St. Louis Cardinals in the second game of the Series. Grover Cleveland Alexander was pitching in the first inning when Gehrig stepped to the plate. With runners Babe Ruth on first and Cedric Durst on second, Gehrig smacked a homer into the right center field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees went on to win, 9-3.

When Gehrig’s homer reached the seats, Yankees fan Buddy Kurland caught the ball but dropped it when another fan knocked his hat over his eyes. A friend picked up the ball and gave it to Kurland.

In a newspaper article, Gehrig said at the time that it was the greatest homer he had ever hit and he wanted the ball for his collection. Kurland kept it, and it stayed with his family for generations.

About five years ago, the ball was given to Dr. Gott as a medical school graduation gift. Kurland was a great-uncle of his mother, Elizabeth Gott. But the ball remained in a drawer at his parents’ home in Stamford, Conn., until the family decided to sell it to pay off Dr. Gott’s school debt.

“I think Lou Gehrig would say, ‘You did the right thing,’ ” Elizabeth Gott said.

After Hunt Auctions sold the ball at the All-Star FanFest in Kansas City, Mo., Elizabeth Gott said all of the proceeds will go toward her son’s school payments. “There’s no sports car in the future here,” she said.

Selling the ball to repay school loans was a big hit among Dr. Gott’s fellow residents.

“They wished they found something in their drawer like that to pay off their debt,” Dr. Gott said.

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