A nice Lou Gehrig sweet spot autographed baseball has an even sweeter story behind it.
Donald Starks was a 15 year-old boy scout in 1937. It was a time when even the most famous Yankee ballplayers could be convinced to attend an awards dinner for a boy scout group.
Starks received a special keepsake that night–one that’s stayed in his family for decades. Now, it’s going into Memory Lane’s April auction.
What make makes this ball so incredibly rare besides the high quality near mint Gehrig signature is Gehrig signed the ball on the sweet spot.
"Collectors, myself included, just don’t see Lou Gehrig singled signed balls with Lou signing them on the sweet spot around at all … and to find one with the quality of Gehrig’s signature in such a high near mint quality makes this a real Hobby rarity” noted JP Cohen, Memory Lane Inc.’s Director of Auction Consignments.
“We couldn’t believe our good fortune when the ball and its owner crossed our path. The signature on the ball is outstanding. It’s almost like Gehrig signed it yesterday. It’s a smooth, even flowing signature, that’s dark and so fully legible. It seems Lou really took care in signing this one,” continued Cohen, “This is a Centerpiece ball for any serious vintage collector’s collection. I am definitely envious of the Collector who lands this trophy ball.”
Dubbed the BOY SCOUT ball, the history of how this ball came into being is fascinating and tells a lot about the character of the signor Mr. Gehrig as well.
The story begins sometime in the early spring of 1937 when Mr. Gehrig accepts an invitation to be the guest speaker at an annual Father and Son Boy Scout Troop Dinner in Flushing NY, on Long Island about 25 miles east of Manhattan. Lou was at his peak as a player having just lead his team to the 1936 World Series championship. * (See footnote below)
When that Friday evening in May arrived, as was tradition, the Troop 1 dispatched an escort of Scouts to accompany Mr. Gehrig and his wife Eleanor to the dinner. The evening was to be especially exciting for a young 15 year old scout Ed Stark as he was to receive an award at the dinner for “perfect scout meeting attendance for 3 years straight.” Only Ed didn’t know at the time the award would e given to him by the great Ironhorse himself. And that the “award” would be a Lou Gehrig signed baseball – a gift from one Ironhorse to another!
See and hear Ed tell the story himself on the Memory Lane Inc. web site, and see some great vintage Boy Scout footage of Troop 1. Also read about troop 1’s great American heritage as a Who’s Who’s of Boy Scout Troops in its own right as well. Go to www.memorylaneinc.com and just go to auction Lot 3 and click on the see the video. Read Ed Stark’s Statement too it’s full a great vintage details on scouting and on the Gehrig dinner night. Also for your assessment see all the ball’s panel images and a close up of the ball’s stellar Gehrig signature!
Popular Science and Industrial Arts were big back in the (pre Video game and TV) 1930’s so when 15 year-old Ed Stark had his “Big Idea” to make a wooden plaque to mount his prized possession he didn’t it give a second thought.
Sports memorabilia back in the ‘30’s was not the hot thing it is today, so young Ed carefully drilled a small hole into the ball in a place where it would not be seen to mount the ball on a nail on his handmade wooden plaque.
Memory Lane promises the hole can be fully repaired. It is at the bottom panel, away from the signature.
Watch the story in the words of Ed Stark by clicking the ‘play’ button below.