For close to 60 years, Lewis Woodruff’s family has wondered what happened to the ring that the late Georgia Tech assistant coach received as part of the Yellow Jackets’ 1951 team that went 11-0-1 and won the Orange Bowl. They finally know – it’s being auctioned.
Lewis Woodruff Jr., a 61-year-old salesman who lives in Lawrenceville, said the family has believed that the ring was stolen in a home robbery when Woodruff Jr. was a toddler. It remained a mystery until Wednesday. After an AJC story reported on the auction of the ring and its likely original recipient – Woodruff’s initials, LCW, are engraved on the inside of the ring – a friend of the younger Woodruff heard it being discussed on local sports radio. The friend contacted Woodruff.
“I always heard legends of the ring, and nobody could ever find it again, and they thought it was gone with all the other stuff,” Woodruff said.
Woodruff got in touch with Lelands auction house, and the company has offered him a share of the ring’s sale. Woodruff acknowledged that, without any proof that it was once stolen, it would be difficult to make a claim on it.
“Of course, God only knows where the police report is,” Woodruff said.
Lewis Woodruff Sr. coached from 1947 to 1967 at Tech, serving for nearly the entirety of Bobby Dodd’s 22-year tenure and one year into Bud Carson’s. Over that time, the Woodruffs held onto all manner of memorabilia – playbooks, team pictures, helmets and coaching gear.
“They would have never sold (the ring),” Woodruff Jr. said.
The ring was a memento for Tech’s 1951 team that won the SEC, beat Baylor in the Orange Bowl and finished No. 5 in the country.
Bidding on the ring closed Friday evening and had skyrocketed in recent days. Starting at $300 on February 20 and rising to $777 on Tuesday, the high bid as of Friday afternoon was $3,570.
Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the ring. It was the team ring from the 1951 season.