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Football thrown by Unitas to Berry for TD in 1958 NFL title game sells for $62,140 at auction

The ball belonged to a sports memorabilia collector in Chicago, who bought it in 2003 from Berry, a star of the 23-17 sudden-death overtime victory over the New York Giants. Berry caught a then-championship-record 12 passes that day from fellow Hall of Famer Unitas in what has been called "The Greatest Game Ever Played."

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The Bert Bell-signature football has the "Wilson" trademark stampings along with a "Thorp Sporting Goods" logo stamping and symmetrically arranged identifiers, including "National Football League - Eastern Conference - Western Conference" in cursive font.

Berry's 15-yard touchdown reception capped an 86-yard drive in the second quarter. Steve Myhra's extra point through the closed end at Yankee Stadium gave the Colts a 14-3 lead. There were no nets used behind the goal posts at the time, so the PAT was caught by a grocer R.J. "Lanky" Bilbrough from the Eastern Shore. Bilbrough sought out News-American sportswriter John Steadman with instructions to give Berry the ball. Steadman forgot to give Berry the football until 1985 or 1986. Steadman, who later wrote for The Evening Sun and The Sun, apologized in a typed letter and gave the history of the football to Berry, who was the New England Patriots coach at the time.

The provenance includes a letter from Steadman to Berry. Also included is a letter from Berry back to Steadman along with a picture of the two. Finally, there is an original letter from Bilbrough and a diagram of where he sat, along with a copy of the newspaper photo showing him with the ball after the game.

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