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Owner of Babe Ruth Baseball Found

July 8, 2000

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ A baseball autographed by Babe Ruth and valued at up to $7,500 was just days from going on the block at the state’s annual auction of unclaimed property.

Then on Friday, a nearly yearlong search for the baseball’s owners finally bore fruit.

The baseball had been in a bank deposit box that Laura Ann and Chris Prall of Charlotte thought they’d closed in 1992. Instead, the box had remained open until the bank sent its unclaimed contents _ balls signed by Ruth and Hank Aaron, plus savings bonds and coins _ to the state.

The auction was set for July 15, until the state was able to use a Social Security number to track down the Pralls.

``There is a happy ending to this story,″ said Deputy State Treasurer Charles Heatherly.

Ruth had autographed the ball for Laura Ann Prall’s father. Her mother had worked as a private nurse for Ruth in New York.

Heatherly said an expert verified the authenticity of the ball and estimated its worth at $3,200 to $7,500.

Last year, the state collected $32.6 million in unclaimed property, mostly stocks, bonds and savings accounts. Auction proceeds support student loans at the state’s public universities.

The property will be sent to the Pralls and they have no intention of selling the ball signed by Ruth.

``Absolutely not,″ Laura Ann Prall said. ``That is a very sentimental piece to me.″

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