The FBI has reopened an investigation into the disappearance of more than $7 million in sports memorabilia, including a 1927 New York Yankees World Series ring and a $30,000 Hickok Belt that Pete Rose won as the outstanding professional athlete in 1975.
FBI spokesman Tom Nicodemus said today that the case was reopened in February after about $10,000 worth of the memorabilia turned up in New York.
“Based on that, it was obvious there was interstate transportation of the memorabilia,” said Nicodemus.
The memorabilia was the collection of Dennis L. Walker, a 43-year-old Oregon con man whose decomposed body was found July 5, 1987, in a motel room on the Las Vegas Strip. The cause of Walker’s death was never found.
At the time of Walker’s death, the FBI in Portland, Ore., was investigating allegations that Walker had used a pyramid scheme to bilk investors throughout the West of funds to obtain expensive sports memorabilia.
Walker’s name was mentioned in Sports Illustrated this week by another collector who said he had been told that Walker bought the bat Rose used to break Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record. The magazine said Walker had purchased various memorabilia from Rose, including the Hickok Belt.
Nicodemus said Walker’s collection included memorabilia from several different sports, including jerseys worn by famous basketball and football players.
Nicodemus said the probe has nothing to do with Rose or any of the former players but simply involves an effort to track down the collection.
“Pete Rose is just one of 60 to 100 people that are in that collection,” he said.