“The Beast” chewed up the Babe Ruth autographed baseball, and now three mischievous basset hounds chewed up my Reggie Jackson autographed baseball.

If you’ve seen the movie “The Sandlot,” then you know the story of the “The Beast” and the Babe Ruth baseball.

A group of boys playing neighborhood baseball lost their ball, so one kid, who wasn’t much of a baseball fan, grabbed his stepdad’s baseball, autographed by Ruth.

That ball ended up in a neighbor’s yard, and ultimately in “The Beast’s” mouth.

My baseball, the ball autographed by my childhood hero, now sports teeth marks.

Perched atop our desk at home, my baseball, along with other autographed baseballs that carry far less sentimental value, and other memorabilia, fell and became the chew toys for the dogs.

My wife’s theory is that the vibration of the washing machine — over months — eventually moved the ball to the end of the shelf, and it fell.

I vow never to do laundry again.

I came home and saw something on the floor, and when I went to investigate, saw the shattered baseball holder.

I knew there was a baseball someplace, and my first thought was please don’t let it be the Reggie ball.

It was.

I didn’t find the ball right away, just more broken pieces of the holder. Finally, I saw it under the kitchen table.

I was horrified.

I had no immediate idea how it could have landed on the floor, all I knew was the seams of the ball were shredded, and there were teeth marks sunk deep into the ball.

The dogs, of course, don’t know baseball or Reggie Jackson or not to chew on that particular ball. They only know chewing.

I have no idea of the ball’s value and don’t care. It meant more to me than money.

I have another ball Reggie autographed I got at a car show in Kansas and an autographed photo I sent away for when I was a kid, but seeing my Reggie ball tattered was a sinking feeling.

It was tough to get mad at the dogs. I made them all go outside while I searched for the ball, but they didn’t really understand what happened or what they did wrong.

All they knew was that a ball landed on the floor, and that meant play with it.

That’s just the way dogs are.

Because of the dogs, there will not be any presents under our Christmas tree until the last minute.

The gifts are on a chair and a table in the sunroom away from the curious dogs. Not very Christmas-ey, but safer.

The dogs are getting chew toys for Christmas, just like the numerous bones and other chew toys strewn all over the house that don’t taste nearly as good as a baseball.

 

Patrick Murphy, editor-publisher of the Humphrey Democrat and Newman Grove Reporter in Nebraska, is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.