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Joe Montana threw his first touchdown pass to 49ers tight end Bob Bruer on November 18, 1979 in a loss to the Denver Broncos.
“They put Joe in the game,” Bruer told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We were getting beat, I think.”
They were. 38-21.
“He threw the ball, I caught it, scored a touchdown. It became a big deal, years later.”
It was a 16-yard shot to the endzone and the first of Montana’s 273 career touchdowns. The ball Bruer snagged that day is surely worth quite a bit.
Recently, a football advertised as that very one was up for auction. It was expected to haul in thousands.
But there was one problem: according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bruer claims that it isn’t the one he caught 43 years ago
Bruer said that he kept the real ball and that it’s easy to pick out thanks to an “adult beverage stain” that it picked up in the early 1980s. Apparently, Bruer and some teammates started tossing the ball around at a party and inadvertently spilled some booze on a piece of history.
Bruer said that after he and his ex-wife divorced in 1990, his sister managed to retrieve the ball and that he has it to this day. He claims to have even thrown it around with kids in his neighborhood.
However, his ex-wife, Nancy Galbreath, says that she got the ball in the divorce. Years later, she gave it to her son, Collin, on his 18th birthday.
She gave her version of events in a notarized letter that accompanied the ball when her son put it up for auction. This ball was appraised for $150,000.
It Seems Money Is Playing A Role In This Debacle
We’re juggling two completely different footballs, each purported to be the one Montana hurled into the endzone back in 1979.
Galbreath and an auction house asked Bruer to sign a document verifying their ball and offered him $10,000 in return.
Once again, the two parties can’t agree on how this went down. Galbreath said Bruer agreed, but changed his mind after talking to an attorney. Bruer said he declined it from the start.
“You want to give me 10 grand? And then you’re going to auction the ball with my signature, and it’s going to sell for $400,000,” Bruer told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Bruer reportedly tried to sell his ball several months ago — the one with the beer stain if you’re having trouble keeping track — but it didn’t sell. Bruer and the auction house that he went to blamed the sales failure on Galbreath.
So, we’ve got two footballs and a debate over which one is the real McCoy, all wrapped up in a grudge match.
Because of the hoopla over the two footballs and authenticity questions, Galbreath’s ball is no longer up for auction.
Maybe at some point we’ll learn once and for all which one is genuine, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle