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Lot # 505: Extraordinary Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner Signed Baseball (PSA)

Starting Bid: $10,000.00

Bids: 43 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "2024 Winter Classic",
which ran from 2/25/2024 10:00 AM to
3/16/2024 10:00 PM

Remarkable Wilson "Official League" baseball featuring the signatures of Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Al Simmons, and George Earnshaw. What makes this ball so extraordinary is both the quality of the signatures and condition of the ball. All the signatures are beautifully scripted in black fountain pen, with the Wagner signature representing the finest such example we have ever seen on a baseball. The Ruth signature, which occupies the sweet spot, grades 9/10. The Wagner signature, located on a side panel grades 9.5/10, while the Simmons signature, which is directly below Wagner's, grades 8/10. The Earnshaw signature, which appears alone on a different side panel, also grades 8/10. The stamped facsimile signature of American Association president "T. J. Hickey" appears on the Earnshaw panel. (Hickey was the American Association president from 1902-1903, 1909, and 1917-1935.) The number "9" (meaning unknown) is written in faded black fountain pen on the ball label and the Wilson Western trademark label has been partially traced over in black ink. Aside from those two minor anomalies, the ball remains in pristine Near Mint condition, looking much as it did when it was originally signed. 

The ball's remarkable condition is directly related to its provenance. This ball has been in our consignor's family since the mid-1930s. Considered a family heirloom, it was carefully stored in a drawer, away from the light, and was only displayed on rare occasions. It made its hobby debut on an episode of Antiques Roadshow in 2014 and it was featured again on the show in 2022, when it received an updated appraisal value of $80,000. Despite its appearance on the show, it has never been offered for sale, publicly or privately, until this time. 

The ball was obtained in the mid-1930s by our consignor's grandfather, who worked for the Department of Agriculture as an inspector of ships. Two of the ships he worked on were the Lurline and Matsonia, both of which traveled to the Hawaiian islands. While the exact history of the ball is unknown, the family believes that the Ruth signature was most likely obtained during Ruth's postseason tour of Hawaii in 1933, because he traveled on the Lurline at the time. There is no record of the other three players traveling with Ruth to Hawaii at that time, and it was always assumed that their signatures were obtained independently on different seafaring trips during the same time period. 

The signatures of Ruth and Wagner, two of the first five inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame, are seldom seen together on a baseball, and this is easily the finest such pairing in the hobby. Simmons, of course, is a Hall of Famer as well and one of the greatest hitters of his era. Earnshaw was one of the top pitchers in baseball during the early 1930s who, along with Lefty Grove, was one of the aces of the Philadelphia Athletics' 1929-1931 baseball dynasty, winning 67 games during that three-year span. Full LOA from PSA.

This piece was the subject of a recent Sports Collector's Daily article. For more information, read the Sports Collectors Daily story.

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