Muhammad Ali’s Olympic gold medal. The basketball from Wilt Chamberlain’s famous 100-point game. The American flag draped over goalie Jim Craig after the “Miracle on Ice.” All precious artifacts from legendary moments in sports – and all are either missing or in dispute. Enter SPORTS DETECTIVES (working title), a new Smithsonian Channel docu-series currently in production that looks to uncover the true stories behind some of the most iconic objects in sports history and the moments that defined them. SPORTS DETECTIVES, comprised of six one-hour episodes, is scheduled to premiere in 2016. The announcement was made today by David Royle, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production, Smithsonian Channel.
The series crisscrosses the United States in search of lost or unverified sports relics shrouded in decades-old mystery. Their stories are told through first-hand accounts from the players, managers, announcers, and fans who witnessed history unfold. With state-of-the-art technology, sports analysis, and real-life detective work, SPORTS DETECTIVES plunges into the moments that made these objects so coveted, piecing together the evidence for what happened and why. How could the ball from Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run in the 1988 World Series have gone missing? What’s the real story behind the Kentucky Derby Museum’s War Admiral trophy, which some say is not original? Where is the football from Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris’s “Immaculate Reception?” And of the three basketballs purported to have gone through the hoop on Chamberlain’s historic 100th point, which has the best claim?
The series enlists the investigative skills of Kevin Barrows, a former FBI special agent and security consultant with the National Hockey League, and Lauren Gardner, a reporter and on-air host with CBS Sports Network. Together, they seek not only to find and confirm the lost objects, but also to uncover new insights about these events that have transcended their sports.
SPORTS DETECTIVES builds on a formula established by Executive Producer Brian Biegel in his best-selling book and award-winning documentary, Miracle Ball, which tracked down the 1951 home run ball from Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World.”