By Barry Janoff
July 15, 2015: Sports is about the athletes who play the games and the people who watch them.
It's also about the bats, balls, gloves, shoes, racquets, sticks, medals and trophies that define the great moments in sports history.
Halls of Fame are filled with memorabilia and artifacts that have helped shaped sports. But there are a vast number of items from memorable and historical games and sports events that are not on display because they went missing in action.
But that does not mean that they are lost forever.
Showtime said it has green-lighted a new show under the working title, Sports Detectives, that will track down misting pieces of sports history. Among the potential items: the American flag draped over goalie Jim Craig after the 1980 “Miracle on Ice", Muhammad Ali’s 1960 Olympic gold medal (which may or may not have been thrown into the Ohio River in 1960 by the boxer himself), Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run ball from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Oakland A's and the football from Pittsburgh Steelers Franco Harris’ 1972 “Immaculate Reception."
Sports Detectives will air as six one-hour episodes on Smithsonian Network, and is scheduled to premiere in 2016.
An investigative team will be led by Kevin Barrows, a former FBI special agent and security consultant with the NHL; and executive producer Brian Biegel, whose best-selling book and subsequent documentary, Miracle Ball (Broadway Books, 2010) depicted an extensive (but ultimately unsuccessful) search to locate and authenticate the legendary “Shot Heard Round the World" home run ball hit by New York Giants Bobby Thomson to win the 1951 National League pennant against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“Smithsonian Channel has revealed extraordinary stories behind historic artifacts, from the Hope Diamond to Thomas Jefferson’s secret Bible,” David Royle, evp-programming and production for Smithsonian Channel, said in a statement.“Now we’re turning our eye to the world of sports. The objects investigated in Sports Detectives are fascinating for fans and non-fans alike, and we expect many surprises along the way.”
"The objects investigated in Sports Detectives are fascinating for fans and non-fans alike, and we expect many surprises along the way.”
Among the other items that could come under investigation: the real story behind the Kentucky Derby Museum’s War Admiral trophy, which some say is not original; and which of the three basketballs purported to have gone through the hoop as Wilt Chamberlain’s historic 100th point has the best claim to being real?
Showtime said the episodes would combine first-hand accounts from the players, managers, announcers and fans who witnessed events; state-of-the-art technology; sports analysis; and "real-life detective work."