It was obtained in the days when private detectives roamed the aisles and concourses of big league ballparks, making friends with the players and looking for pickpockets. Now, a ball signed by two of baseball’s tragic figures is at the forefront of a major sports memorabilia auction.
Jake Mintz was a fixture in the city of Cleveland during the first half of the 20th century.
6-foot-3 with a head of red hair and an affection for baseball, he was an affable man who handed out business cards which revealed his profession in a creative way. "Be Good!" they read. "Jake Mintz is in the House!"
Mintz was a private detective who spent much of his time cruising through the concourses of Cleveland’s Lakefront Stadium, making sure the patrons were there to enjoy the Indians’ games, and not cruising for ‘easy marks’ they could target for their pickpocket schemes.
Along the way, Mintz met many of the players on both the Indians and the other American League teams who visited Cleveland, including the infamous Black Sox. Some time around 1920, Mintz obtained a baseball autographed by both Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver. Kept in the family for decades, the rare ball has been consigned to Huggins & Scott’s October auction.
The only known example of its kind, the dual signed official American League ball has been approved by James Spence Authentication. Opening bid is $7500 but it’s final price could be more than ten times that amount.
(You can read about the era in an excellent Shoeless Joe Jackson biography: Shoeless: The Life and Times of Joe Jackson.)
Earlier this year, Huggins and Scott sold a high grade single-signed Christy Mathewson ball for $161,000. This auction includes another large selection of single, team and multi-signed baseballs including another single-signed Mathewson.
Additional highlights of the auction include a 1987 Washington Redskins Super Bowl ring, a 1987-88 Chicago Bulls home white game used Michael Jordan jersey; rare regionally issued baseball cards and panels including a 1954 Jackie Jensen Briggs two-card panel.
A large selection of mid-to-higher graded E106 American Caramels including Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and others. Another Wagner card in the sale is a E92 Croft’s Cocoa graded SGC 40.
T206s are in abundance, including Cobb (Green) graded SGC 60, Johnson (Portrait) SGC 70 and many other singles, lots and groupings that are both graded and ungraded.
A high grade card of the man who managed Babe Ruth during the Yankee’s glory days is among the vintage baseball cards offered. The W600 Miller Huggins grades an 84 NM 7 by SGC.
Auction Director Josh Wulkan says the sale will consist of a record-setting 2,016 items when catalogs arrive this week, with a wide variety of material available from virtually every collecting genre.
"We will be presenting an absolutely staggering number of complete and near card sets from the 20th century including a completely graded 1974 Topps Set, a graded W517 set and 1948-1975 baseball and football complete and near sets in varying grades."
"We are also pleased to present our most extensive collection of vintage hockey cards, including a C55 set, Maple Crispette set, Ice Kings set and loads of graded and ungraded singles and lots."
One unique piece of football history up for bid is an actual piece of the goal post from the 1958 NFL Championship game, signed on either side by members of the 1958 and 1968 Baltimore Colts.
Other highlights include:
- Late 1960s Joe DiMaggio game-used coach’s bat, signed by DiMaggio, Mantle and Williams
- Both 2006 Exquisite Babe Ruth Autograph/Game Used Jersey cards, numbered 1 of 2 and 2 of 2
- 1950 Joplin Miners ball with one of the earliest known Mickey Mantle signatures
- Unique ball signed by Ruth, Dizzy Dean, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and others
- Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Lazzeri, Wheat and others signed ball from 1927
- Second installment of the Aaron Dodek baseball and boxing autograph collection, featuring arguably the single greatest assemblage of boxing autographs and memorabilia ever offered.
- Selection of items from former player Walter “Boom Boom” Beck, including a pair of gorgeous single signed baseballs from 1959 Griffith Stadium featuring Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon
- Tough-to-find signed checks, including Ruth, Clemente, Wagner, Cobb, Jackie Robinson and Bender
Bidding begins October 1at 10:00am EST. The auction will conclude in two parts, one on October 17 and the final section October 19.
Wulkan also revealed that Huggins and Scott will soon add another auction to its growing business.
"Our Masterpiece Auctions will continue to run in March and October, however we will be adding a June auction to the mix that will primarily target a more budget-conscious collecting base with items in the $300-$1000 range."
Huggins & Scott recently got some national attention when CNN’s Joe Johns took a look at the sports memorabilia industry during the O.J. Simpson saga.