The 30 original "Pete Rose confession" baseballs consigned to Robert Edward Auctions have been pulled from the April sale and sold outright to a Canadian gaming company.
The group of balls originally consigned by the family of Barry Halper became the focus of nationwide media attention because of the unique inscription.
However, when Pete Rose began marketing freshly-signed "I'm sorry I bet" balls via his website and daily appearances at a Las Vegas sports memorabilia outlet, the potential market value took a hit. It put REA President Rob Lifson in a difficult spot, so when an offer came along to buy the group at a significant price, he pulled the balls from the auction.
"An offer to purchase all thirty Pete Rose baseballs for $30,000 was made to us by ESI Entertainment Systems Inc., a gaming service industry company from British Columbia, Canada," Lifson wrote in an e-mail. Citadel Commerce Corp, an e-commerce payment solutions provider and wholly owned subsidiary of ESI, issued a news release Friday morning confirming the sale.
Citadel Commerce indicated it plans to give the baseballs away to customers via an on-line promotion.
The balls had been consigned to REA by the family of noted sports memorabilia collector Barry Halper, who died in December of 2005.
"REA has never before withdrawn an item that has been scheduled for auction, but in this unique instance, in light of the fact that Pete Rose is now selling baseballs signed in an identical manner on his website for $299, we advised our consignors that it was our opinion that this offer should be accepted. Our job is to make the best decisions possible for our consignors, and we have therefore executed the sale."
The $30,000 price means the baseballs were purchased for $1000 each. Lifson said the Canadian company was made fully aware they could purchase balls from Rose At $299 but ESI "specifically wanted the REA auction examples". It's believed Rose signed 303 of the baseballs about two years ago for acquaintances but it's not likely the balls he's now signing will be numbered, thus maintaining a niche for the original group.
"We apologize for any inconvenience to the hundreds of collectors who have contacted us during the week regarding these Pete Rose baseballs, but in this very unusual circumstance we believe that it was appropriate to recommend an outright sale," Lifson wrote. "We are confident that collectors will appreciate our thought process, and hope that any inconvenience is more than remedied by the fact that baseballs bearing this identical inscription can now be purchased directly from Pete Rose at www.PeteRose.com."
"We wish Pete Rose all the best and we will be referring all future and previously received inquiries regarding Pete Rose baseballs to www.PeteRose.com."
Michael Meeks, President of Citadel Commerce stated, "These baseballs are a piece of sports history, and as Mr. Rose was not paid to sign them, we think it only appropriate to respect his original intent by giving away the baseballs as incentives to consumers that utilize myCitadel.com for payment of their on-line Internet purchases."
For information about the withdrawn thirty baseballs, which Lifson believes will always have a special historical significance as the original thirty Pete Rose balls discovered in Barry Halper’s basement, contact: ESI Entertainment Systems Inc. (TSX:ESY), 15th Floor, 4710 Kingsway, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5H 4M2.