FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An annual charity auction in Fargo that helps raise money for the Roger Maris Cancer Center was targeted by thieves this year but still raised money for cancer work.

More than 100 items that were to be auctioned were taken from a storage facility earlier this month, a majority of them baseballs autographed by Hall of Famers including Whitey Ford, Paul Molitor and Rollie Fingers.

Autographed baseballs are historically among the top-grossing items at the auction. An autographed baseball from New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera had a winning bid $375 on Sunday, when a scaled-back auction was held, The Forum newspaper reported.

The missing baseballs might have raised as must as $4,000, organizers told KVLY-TV.

The auction is part of the annual Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament. The event is named in honor of the late New York Yankees great who grew up in Fargo and benefits the cancer center, Hospice of the Red River Valley and Shanley High School in Fargo. Maris died of cancer in December 1985, at age 51.

Auction coordinator Jerry Rostad told The Forum that the theft of items was discovered when preparation for the tournament began earlier this month. Burglars used bolt cutters to break the lock on the storage locker and made away with 111 items.

Rostad said he wants to get the word out in the event the thieves try to sell the stolen merchandise through online bidding sites or local pawn shops and sports collectible hobby stores.

“I don’t know if we will get them back, but after something like this happening you feel a little bit violated,” he said.

The highest-grossing item at this year’s auction was a full-size Minnesota Vikings “Purple People Eaters” football helmet autographed by Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Gary Larsen, which netted a $3,000 winning bid.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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