The Civil War had ended just two years earlier and professional baseball as we know it was still decades away. A surviving relic from the game’s earliest days in New York City 150 years ago is about to hit the auction block.
Preserved amazingly well thanks to its life inside the original velvet-lined case, what’s believed to be the oldest surviving trophy ball from baseball in the Big Apple is about to hit the auction block. The 1867 silver trophy ball presented to the Liberty Club will be offered by Heritage Auctions in its November catalog auction. The trophy and case are expected to sell for at least $20,000.
The ball, measuring about the same scope as a normal-sized baseball, was presented by a man named Spencer Wood, a local sponsor.
The winning club was part of the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), an organization boasting over 400 clubs in 1867. While the loosely organized league’s records are a bit of a mystery, it’s believed the silver ball was the prize handed out for a tournament involving teams in and around New York. The Liberty club’s hometown was Nyack, just 30 miles upriver from Manhattan.
The ball weighs six ounces. The two halves of the original case have become separated but is still in good condition otherwise.
A book written by researchers of the New York sports scene from 1870-1930 references the presentation of the Spencer Wood baseball to the Liberty Club “on the grounds east of Oak Hill Cemetery.”
The auction takes place from November 16-18 at HA.com.