Brian Biegel Q&A: The Man Behind the Quest to find the Miracle Ball
Brian Biegel is the man behind the mission in Miracle Ball, a Velocity special airing, Saturday, September 29 @ 8p E/P. We were fortunate enough to be able ask Brian a few questions about his incredible quest to investigate just what happened to the lost ball from the Bobby Thomson’s incredible home run in the 1951 National League Pennant. Learn about his search and the ways it’s changed his life:
What motivated you to go on this quest?
After my dad read an advertisement in a magazine offering a 1 million dollar reward for the famous Bobby Thomson ball, he came to me asking for my help in proving that he had the long-lost baseball. After taking on the mission, I became fascinated with the mythology of the "Shot Heard Around the World" game, and trying to either prove my dad had the real ball or locate the fan who did, frankly, became an obsession.
The 1951 HR ball is one of the most precious lost treasures in all of sports. The game represented the beginning of the golden age of baseball in America and that the whereabouts of the most significant artifact from the most famous game were still missing after several decades didn't make sense to me. And so it became a hunt for the sports equivalent of the Holy Grail....Rosebud...the lost tomb of King Tut.
Were you always a fan of baseball?
I grew up in a house with rabid baseball fans, both my mom and my dad were steeped in Brooklyn Dodgers fandom. After we moved to Queens most of the family adopted the Mets as their team, except my oldest brother, Steve, who rooted for the Yankees. Dad also played some minor league ball so that fueled our passion for America's pastime as well.
How much did your father’s role in this influence your search?
My father was the driving force behind my initial decision to go on a quest to learn the truth about the whereabouts of the celebrated HR ball. After he presented what he believed to be the authentic ball to a sports collectables dealer, he became disheartened by their authentication process (some facts were overlooked). As a result I then became interested in learning for myself just how the process works, especially for items that sell for as much as seven figures. All this became the first steps on a journey towards Miracle Ball.
Are you satisfied with what you learned?
The evidence attained over the course of the two-year investigation is indisputable. It's been verified by forensics experts from the NYPD as well as independent sources including curators, historians and eye witnesses who attended the historic game. None of which have a monetary stake in the outcome.
Are there points when you thought you would never find out the truth?
Like in any real-life investigation you're going to come up against obstacles that will test your resolve. Sure, I thought about giving up on the search a time or two, but fortunately I had the help and support of family and friends that remained confident in my ability to uncover the full truth. And so I continued the quest, viewing each new road block not as a challenge but as an opportunity to break through the barriers.
What was the most challenging aspect of this search?
At a certain point in the search I came up against a particular group of people with knowledge about the ball who were reluctant to talk to me (it'll make more sense when you see the film). So that was difficult. Dealing with my dad's expectations added stress too, but I'd do it all over again.
Are you looking for more sports artifacts?
Yes, as a result of Miracle Ball I have decided to go in search of other lost artifacts from the world of sports. But not just any old piece of sports memorabilia. I'm talking about the most iconic objects from the most memorable events. The ones that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when talking about their place in American history.
Caption: Are these the hands that caught the ball?
How do you feel now that your quest is completed?
When asked about when he knows he's finished writing a screenplay, Woody Allen once said, "I don't ever think it's finished." In essence, I feel the same way. There's always another goal to accomplish. In my case, I hope to chronicle some of these sports mystery-solving adventures either in a TV show or in a book like I did with my first book, "Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard Around the World." In the book, I was afforded the opportunity to break down the story in even greater detail. But having the documentary air on Velocity is a grand slam!