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Collection of Rare, Old Autographed Baseballs Consigned to Auction

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A remarkable collection of previously unknown autographed baseballs collected by the former general manager of a hotel where big league teams stayed for decades is heading for the market.

Consigned to Hunt Auctions for its upcoming Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum event, the baseballs include hard to find players from the first half of the 20th century, single-signed early career examples from Ty Cobb, John McGraw and Rogers Hornsby as well as several pre-World War II signatures.

The auction company says the person who collected them ran the elegant Jefferson Hotel during the 1910s, 20s, 30s and early 40s and accumulated the signatures when various baseball players and teams would visit the hotel. The man’s descendants have consigned them to the auction.

Each lot will be accompanied by a letter of provenance from the family of the original recipient.

Here’s a list, provided by Hunt Auctions.  Their annual Louisville Slugger Auction is set for Saturday, November 10.

1943 National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals team signed baseball. Spalding F.Frick ONL baseball has been signed by 25 including Musial, Southworth, Cooper, Marion, and Walker. Also present are Umpires Tom Dunn and Bill Stewart along with Danny Murtaugh whom was on the Phillies at the time. Period fountain pen signatures rate 5 to 7 out of 10 (one or two lesser), ball displays moderate even toning. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Overall EX.

Ted Williams single signed baseball c.1940s. Reach W.Harridge OAL baseball has been signed across the sweet spot, “Ted Williams.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 7-7/8 out of 10 having faded slightly. Ball displays an even cream coloration and retains unusually bold and well defined League stampings. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Ball EX/MT-NM, Sig. EX/MT.

Tom Yawkey and Joe Cronin autographed baseball c.1940s. Reach W.Harridge OAL baseball has been signed on adjacent side panels, “Joe Cronin” and “Tom Yawkey.” Vintage fountain pen signatures rate 7/8 to 8 out of 10. Ball displays a light cream coloration with small areas of shellac applied over signatures and retains unusually bold League stampings. Includes auction LOA from JSA: EX/MT-NM.

Lot of four St. Louis Cardinals and Browns related autographed baseballs c.1930s-1940s. Includes mid-1930s St. Louis Cardinals team signed Spalding F.Frick ONL ball having approximately 15 signatures including Frisch, Medwick, Mize rating 2 to 6/7 out of 10. Additional panel with Dizzy Dean and Jesse Haines sigs has been enhanced in period India ink. Ball has light coat of shellac, toning, and light scattered wear; 1946 St. Louis Browns team signed Reach baseball (faded stampings) with (31) signatures including Dahlgren and Stephens. Ball has light cream coloration, signatures rate 5/6 to 7 out of 10; c.1930s Browns/Red Sox multi-signed Reach W.Harridge OAL baseball with 8 signatures including Stephens and Higgins rating 2/3 to 6 out of 10. Ball displays even cream coloration and light wear; Spalding F.Frick baseball sweet spot signed by Harry Walker with even toning has period “two base hit by…scoring winning run in 1946 World Series” notation. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Range VG-EX/MT.

1937 All-Star Game” baseball attributed to use by Lefty Gomez and signed by George Barr. Well used/soiled baseball having faint vestiges of period appropriate William Harridge Official American League markings. Notated on the side panel in period ink (unknown hand), “From 1937 All Star Game Played at Washington D.C. – Game Won By Americans 8-3, This Ball Pitched by Gomez 7/7/37.” Opposite panel has been signed “Geo. Barr” in fountain pen rating 8 to 9 out of 10. Ball displays appropriate use/wear with a small scuff and half dollar sized area of discoloration which is likely the result of prior mounting/display. The 1937 event was held at Griffith Stadium with President Roosevelt throwing out the first pitch and Gomez starting for the American League. Umpire George Barr was on field at third base. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Ball VG-EX, Sig. EX/MT-NM.

Ford Frick single signed baseball c.late 1930s. Spalding F.Frick ONL baseball has been signed on the sweetspot, “Ford Frick.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 6/7 to 7 out of 10. Ball displays even toning and scattered wear with light coat of shellac applied. Double circle Spalding logo dates to Frick’s earliest days as National League President. Includes auction LOA from JSA: VG/EX ($750-$1,000).

Late 1930s National League Umpires autographed baseball. Spalding F.Frick ONL baseball has been signed on the side panel by George Barr, Bick Campbell, and Dolly Stark. Period fountain pen signatures rate 7 to 8 out of 10. Ball displays even toning/soiling with evident usage wear and has shellac applied over signed panel. Includes auction LOA from JSA: EX.

Joe Medwick single signed baseball c.1930s. Spalding F.Frick ONL baseball has been signed across the sweetspot, “Joe Medwick.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 7/8 to 8 out of 10. Ball displays mild even toning with shellac over signed area. Additional half dollar sized circle of shellac appears on panel below sweetspot and that area has some surface loss (likely the result of prior mounting within display). League stampings remain bold and well defined and this particular double circle Spalding logo places era of manufacture within the 1930s. Choice example dating to Medwick’s days as member of the St. Louis Cardinals fabled “Gas House Gang” teams. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX/MT.

1940 Cy Young single signed baseball. Red and black stitched Spalding J.Tener ONL baseball has been signed across a side panel, “March 8, 1940, Cy Young, Peoli, O.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 7-7/8 out of 10. Ball displays a mild even cream coloration with shellac applied over the signed panel. A pair of quarter sized circle imperfections appear over League stampings (one being shellac, other remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount – both with surface loss at center) resulting from prior display. The panel below that which is signed has a consistent abrasion throughout. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX-EX/MT.

Dazzy Vance single signed baseball c.late 1920s. Red and black stitched Spalding J.Heydler ONL baseball has been signed across the sweetspot, “A.C. Dazzy Vance.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 8 out of 10. Ball displays moderate even toning/discoloration with shellac applied over signed area. Light scattered wear mentioned for accuracy with small area of more pronounced toning with some surface loss over Heydler facsimile signature (likely resulting from prior mount within display). League stampings remain bold and well defined. Dates to the era in which Vance dominated the National League. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX-EX/MT.

Early Connie Mack single signed baseball c.1910s-1920s. Red and blue stitched Reach B.Johnson OAL baseball has been signed on the side panel, “Connie Mack.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 8 to 8/9 out of 10. Ball displays moderate toning/discoloration and has shellac applied over signed panel. Sweetspot has small quarter sized remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display with an area of adjacent surface loss. League stampings have faded slightly but remain well defined. This particular single circle Reach logo and printed on 1909 patent date place the era of manufacture c.1910s. With a  10- year playing career interspersed, Mack engaged in a brief stint at the helm of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1894-1896. He assumed control of the Philadelphia Athletics at Franchise inception in 1901 and was with the team through (9) American League pennants and five World Series Championships before retiring after the 1950 season. He remains the longest serving Manager in Major League history. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX-EX/MT.

Late 1920s Frank Frisch single signed baseball. Red and black stitched Spalding J.Heydler ONL baseball has been signed across the sweetspot, “Frank Frisch.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 6/7 out of 10. Ball displays mild even toning with shellac over signed area. Several light scratches to upper leather surface of top panel (mentioned largely for accuracy). Lower panel has a half dollar sized circle of shellac and this area has a small amount of surface loss and residue (result of prior mounting within display). League stampings remain bold and well defined. Uncommonly early example dating to Frisch’s earliest days in St. Louis with a team he would lead to four World Series appearances. By far the earliest single signed example encountered and possibly the earliest to have surfaced. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX-EX/MT.

Charles Rigler and Dick Nallin autographed baseballs c.1910s-1920s (2). Early Red and blue stitched Spalding T.J.Lynch ONL baseball has been signed on the side panel, “July 18, 1914 Compliments Chas. Rigler Umpire.” Period fountain pen signature rates 6 to 6/7 out of. Adjacent panel was signed at a later date by Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters. Ball has shellac applied at areas with mild toning and light scattered wear (one small accentuated scuff). League stampings remain bold and well defined (Lynch facsimile signature faded). Small quarter sized remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display appears on sweetspot. Rigler is often mentioned as a potential Hall of Fame candidate (displays EX); additional red and blue stitched baseball has extremely faint vestiges of OAL stampings visible and displays heavy wear/soiling throughout. Side panel has been signed “R.F. Nallin” in period fountain pen rating 4 to 5 out of 10. Indecipherable notation below (GD). Includes auction LOA from JSA:  GD-EX.

1922 Ed Walsh single signed baseball. Red and black stitched Spalding B.Johnson OAL baseball has been signed on the side panel, “June 4 – 1922, Ed A Walsh.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 8 out of 10. Ball displays moderate even toning with shellac applied over signed area. Light scattered wear mentioned for accuracy with small quarter sized remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display. League stampings which are unaffected by this remain bold and well defined. Walsh made his debut with the Chicago White Sox in 1904 and would contribute 17 wins to their Champion season in 1906. Two seasons later (1908) he put together one of the finest single season pitching records of the modern era notching 40 wins which is second only to Jack Chesbro’s (41) in post-1900 play. He remains the all-time leader in Major League history with a 1.82 career ERA. Having retired from play just 3 years prior, in 1922 Walsh was then trying his hand in a short lived stint as an Umpire. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX-EX/MT.

1925 Bill McGowan single signed baseball. Red and blue stitched Reach B.Johnson OAL baseball has been signed across the side panel and sweetspot, “Umpire Bill McGowan July 19, 1925.” Period fountain pen signature rates 7/8 out of 10. Ball display light even toning with shellac applied over signature. A hint of other light wear mentioned for accuracy with small quarter sized remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display. League stampings remain bold and well defined. McGowan’s career was just getting underway in 1925 having made his Major League debut just over three months prior to the dating of this piece. Ultimately he would work a record 2,400 consecutive games including eight World Series and four All-Star Games. His remains one of the very few umpiring careers which has warranted induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. More than likely the earliest dated example to have surfaced. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX-EX/MT.

Rogers Hornsby single signed baseball c.late 1920s. Red and black stitched Spalding ONL baseball has been signed across the side panel, “Rogers Hornsby.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 2 to 2/3 out of 10 with a coat of shellac applied over it. Ball displays mild toning with a touch of light scattered wear and has oval shaped remnant of adhesive mount resulting from prior display. League stampings which are unaffected by this remain unusually bold and well defined. Despite having largely faded from view Includes auction LOA from JSA: VG-EX.

Ty Cobb single signed baseball c.1910s (enhanced). Red and blue stitched Reach B. Johnson Official American League baseball displaying very light scattered surface wear with even toning throughout. Side panel has been signed “Ty Cobb” with the original underlying period signature having largely faded; traced later in black ink to aid in display with small area of shellac applied. Below the signature is written the number “5” (reason unknown) and “B.B.C.” Panel below that which is signed has quarter sized remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount and adjacent area of surface loss, the result of mounting within prior display. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Ball EX-EX/MT, Sig. VG with note to enhancement.

G.C. Alexander single signed baseball c.late 1920s. Red and black stitched Spalding ONL baseball has been signed across the sweetspot, “G.C. Alexander.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 1 to 1/2 out of 10 with a coat of shellac applied over it. Ball displays mild toning with a touch of light scattered wear and has quarter sized area of shellac and remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display. League stampings remain unusually bold and well defined. Despite having largely faded from view, Alexander’s distinct hand is recognizable. Includes auction LOA from JSA: VG-EX.

1915 John J. McGraw single signed baseball. Red and black stitched Spalding ONL baseball has been signed on the side panel, “John J. McGraw 1915.” Vintage black fountain pen signature rates 8 out of 10. Ball displays moderate even toning with shellac applied over signed panel and has light scattered wear. Sweetspot has quarter sized circle of shellac and remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display. McGraw made his professional debut in 1891 with the Baltimore Orioles and established one of the great early playing careers which stretched until the close of the 1906 season.

In the intervening years he had suited up with the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Giants and starting in 1899 functioned on and off as both player and manager. In 1902 he assumed a more permanent role as New York Giants Manager and would hold the position for (30) years. During that time he notched a National League record 2,669 wins (out of 2,763 total – second only to Connie Mack MLB wide) with his teams winning (10) NL titles and (3) World Championships. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX, Sig. strong EX/MT.

Napoleon Lajoie single signed baseball c.1910s-1920s. Red and blue stitched Reach B.Johnson OAL baseball has been signed atop the side panel, “N. Lajoie.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 7 to 7/8 out of 10. Ball displays mild even toning with very light coat of shellac applied over signed panel and has just a touch of other scattered incidental wear (mentioned for accuracy). The panel below that which is signed has a small area of shellac and remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display. League stampings are unaffected by this and remain unusually bold and well defined. This particular single circle Reach logo and printed on 1909 patent date place the era of manufacture c.1910s.

The diminutive signature style employed by Lajoie is indicative of the early period in which it was signed. At this time players were unaccustomed to their signature being the only autograph placed on a baseball and in turn left ample room for teammates. By far the earliest Lajoie single signed baseball we know to exist and surely among the earliest single signed baseballs to have surfaced. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX-EX/MT.

Vice President Thomas R. Marshall single signed baseball attributed to Washington Senators 1917 Opening Day. Red and blue stitched Reach B.Johnson OAL baseball has been signed across the side panel and sweetspot, “Thos. R. Marshall.” Period fountain pen signature rates 6/7 to 7 out of 10. Ball displays light even toning with shellac applied over signature. A touch of other light scattered wear has minimal effect on display value with small quarter sized remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display. League stampings remain generally bold and well defined. Block letter printed notation on a side panel reads, “Opening Game Wash. D.C. 1917.”

The particular style of handwriting employed bears striking similarity to that of Hall of Fame Umpire Thomas Connolly, who is known to have noted other period balls from high profile events in the same fashion. In addition, Connolly would often have them signed by those involved or other prominent individuals. His collection included the baseball thrown and later signed by Woodrow Wilson on Opening Day, 1916; Wilson did not attend the festivities in 1917 and likely sent Marshall in his place. To be clear, we hesitate to infer that this is the very ball which was thrown to open the Senators 1917 season however, it was most certainly signed that day and likely represents the only Marshall single signed baseball to have surfaced. Includes auction LOA from JSA: VG-EX.

1914 Bill Dinneen single signed baseball. Red and blue stitched Reach B.Johnson OAL baseball has been signed on the side panel, “Bill Dinneen, August 16th 1914, Syracuse N.Y.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 7to 7/8 out of 10. Ball displays mild even toning with light scattered wear and has shellac applied over signed panel. Area below has a small area of shellac and remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display. League stampings are well defined being minimally affected by light wear. Rare and uncommonly early single signed baseball as relates to a highly regarded player who holds the distinction of winning (3) games in the 1903 World Series and went on to storied umpiring career. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX.

Bill McGowan autographed baseball. Reach W.Harridge Official American League baseball has been signed on the side panel, “Bill McGowan.” Blue fountain pen signature rates 7/8 out of 10. In addition, McGowan has simulated, in his own hand, the “signatures” of five star players of the day incl. Grove and DiMaggio. Ball displays light even toning with incidental scattered surface wear and has period shellac applied over signed areas. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Overall EX/MT.

R.J. (Bobby) Wallace single signed baseball c.1910s-1920s. Red and blue stitched Reach B.Johnson OAL baseball has been signed on the side panel, “RJ Wallace.” Vintage fountain pen signature rates 7/8 to 8 out of 10. Ball displays mild even toning with very light coat of shellac applied over signed panel. Ball has just a touch of other scattered incidental wear (mentioned for accuracy). The panel below that which is signed has a half dollar sized area of shellac, minute amount of surface loss, and remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display.  League stampings are unaffected by this and remain unusually bold and well defined. This particular single circle Reach logo and printed on 1909 patent date place the era of manufacture c.1910s. Wallace enjoyed a celebrated playing career, which began in 1894 with the Cleveland Spiders, saw a long stint with the St. Louis Browns, and two shorter spans of time with the St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals ending in 1918. He spent the remainder of his life involved with game as either manager, umpire, or scout and was inducted into Baseballs’ Hall of Fame in 1953. In addition to the rarity of a Wallace single signed baseball (we have seen perhaps one or two others) the offered example ranks among the earliest single signed baseballs to have surfaced within the hobby. Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX-EX/MT.

Christy Mathewson single signed baseball c.1910s (enhanced). Red and blue stitched Spalding J.Tener ONL baseball displaying evident scattered usage wear with soiling throughout. Side panel has been signed “Christy Mathewson” with the original underlying period signature having largely faded; traced later in black India ink to aid in display. Panel below that which is signed has quarter sized remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount and adjacent area of surface loss, the result of mounting within prior display. This is an extremely desirable single signed baseball, though it remains an affordable substitute as an all original example would reach six figures in value. It remains a ball that was not only handled by Big Six but does indeed contain his highly coveted authentic signature below the added enhancement. Includes auction LOA from JSA: VG.

Rare 1915 Miller Huggins single signed baseball. Red and black stitched Spalding ONL baseball has been signed on the side panel in print, “Miller J Huggins” with the date “Sept 26/15″ noted in his hand below. Vintage black fountain pen signature rates 8 out of 10. Ball displays moderate even toning with shellac applied over signed panel, and a touch of light scattered wear. Sweetspot has quarter sized remnant of circle shaped adhesive mount resulting from prior display. For the sake of extreme accuracy we mention a small imperfection to the ball surface at the center of signature.

In 1915 Huggins was nearing the end of his playing days which had seen an earlier stint with the Cincinnati Reds (1904-1909) and then the St. Louis Cardinals for whom he was both tending second base and serving as manager. His last season of play came in 1917 and in 1918 he shifted allegiances to Jacob Ruppert and the New York Yankees. There he embarked on a fabled run leading Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the legendary “Murders’ Row” teams to an unprecedented string six American League Pennants and threeWorld Series Championships between 1921 and 1928.

Huggins remains one of the most revered managers of all-time and his association with the team, which many consider the greatest ever fielded, has led to intense desirability of his autograph.  The auction company believes that if this is not the only Huggins single signed baseball which has surfaced it is one of perhaps two or three and mostly certainly the earliest known. That it is “block letter” signed is fitting for the era in which most players were entirely unaccustomed to placing their autograph on a baseball with this practice having been observed many times.  Includes auction LOA from JSA: Displays EX/MT.

 

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