Carpenter gets authentication on Thorpe football

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 17, 2007


Tribune Sports Editor

FIREBRICK, Ky. — John Carpenter is having a ball.

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Football, that is.

Carpenter, who has the largest privately-owned memorabilia collection, has a historic football in his collection that has been authenticated by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The football was once kicked by the legendary Jim Thorpe during a game in 1927 when he played for the Portsmouth Shoe-Steels.

Carpenter said the football is believed to be the only ball remaining that Thorpe ever kicked.

Thorpe is considered by many as one of the top 10 greatest athletes of all-time. He played football, baseball and basketball professionally including 77 games with the Cincinnati Reds.

Thorpe drove in the winning run in the 10th inning of the double no-hitter game that the Reds won 1-0. Fred Toney of the Reds and Hippo Vaughn of the Cubs both threw nine-inning no-hitters. Toney finished with a 10-inning no-hitter.

Thorpe was in the 1912 Olympics where he won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.

The football is the old, round pumpkin-looking style. It was given to Carpenter by Leo “Radio” Gardner in 1994. Gardner, born in 1912, told Carpenter he went to the game and stole the ball.

“People who knew Gardner said he was an honest man and he really liked Thorpe and talked about him a lot,” said Carpenter. “He even showed me where he took the ball.”

Gardner died in 1997.