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Lot # 1088 (of 1743)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1951 Joe DiMaggio "Retirement Day" Ball Inscribed to Yankees Owner Del Webb

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $4,994

Following the 1951 World Series Joe DiMaggio told some reporters that he was going to be retiring from baseball; however, that declaration was not made official until December 11, 1951. Presented here is an extraordinary and extremely historically significant baseball signed by the legendary "Yankee Clipper" on his final day as a New York Yankee. What makes the ball all the more remarkable is that DiMaggio has not only dated it, but also added a long personal inscription to Yankees owner Del Webb. DiMaggio memorialized the finality of the moment, composing a heartfelt parting inscription to his former employer and team in which he expresses his gratitude for being a Yankee. The inscription, rendered in black fountain pen on a side panel, reads "12/11/51 - To Del Webb, my association with you and the Yankees have been happy winning times. Sincerely, Joe DiMaggio." Both the text and DiMaggio's signature grade "8." The sentiments expressed by DiMaggio were both sincere and true, and for DiMaggio this was no doubt an emotional day of reflection. Following the press conference held on December 11, 1951, newswires reported that "Joe DiMaggio makes official what he said after the final game of the World Series - he is retiring...At today's press conference, he explains the reason for his decision: 'I no longer have it.' When asked about the best hitter he's ever seen, DiMaggio responds: 'That's an easy one. Ted Williams, without question." Del Webb purchased the Yankees in 1945 with Lee MacPhail and Dan Topping. The following year Webb and Topping bought out MacPhail and the two remained owners of he club until 1964, when it was sold to CBS. During DiMaggio's seven-year tenure with the Yankees under Webb, the club won four World Championships, including three consecutive titles from 1949 through 1951. This is the most important Joe DiMaggio signed baseball we have ever seen, let alone offered. Given its date of signing, it might also be the last ball ever signed by DiMaggio as a member of the New York Yankees. This ball was sold at public auction once before, way back in 1993, at which time it was purchased by our consignor for $2,200. While that sum might not seem like a lot today, it should be noted that sports auctions in the early 1990s (predating the internet era) were not nearly as high profile, or as large as they are today. (By comparison, a game-used 1920 Babe Ruth bat personally signed for Buck Weaver sold for $38,500 at a different auction in 1993.) This is a museum-quality piece, one that would be a significant highlight in even the most advanced collection, and a piece worthy of display in Cooperstown or perhaps even more appropriately, at Yankee Stadium, especially since it symbolizes the end of one the greatest chapters in New York Yankees franchise history. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $4,994

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