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1982 Derek Jeter Original Little League Baseball Photo and Team-Signed Baseball
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $14,400
Derek Jeter's history of leading his team to championships goes back many years, long before he ever set foot on the diamond at Yankee Stadium. Proof of that is offered here in this amazing lot relating to Jeter's undefeated 1982 Oakwood Little League team. The collection is comprised of an original team photo and what we believe to be the earliest Derek Jeter signed baseball in existence! Jeter was just eight years old in 1982 when his parents signed him up to play Little League ball in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. His coach during that season was Donald Marshall, whose son David was also a member of the team. Both Donald and David Marshall (the consignors to this auction) have provided individual notarized letters of authenticity attesting to the items offered here, as well as providing remembrances of the youngster who would later become the legendary captain of the New York Yankees and the greatest shortstop in team history (both letters can be read in their entirety on our website).
The signed baseball offered here, as noted in both letters, was presented to coach Marshall following the team's undefeated season in 1982. It has been signed in varying shades of blue ink by ten team members, including Derek Jeter. Like all but one of the boys, Jeter has printed his name on a side panel, directly below that of Dave Marshall, the coach's son. Two different pens were used by the boys to sign the ball and for some reason Jeter signed his first name and the first letter of his last name in light-blue ink and then switched over to a darker ink for the completion of his last name. According to teammate Dave Marshall, this is because the pen they were using ran out of ink. The portion of Jeter's signature done in light-blue ink grades "9," while the remaining portion, in darker ink, is somewhat lighter, grading "6." The Wilson "Pro Star" ball remains in Near Mint condition. This ball was presented to Marshall in a special ball holder bearing an engraved plaque reading "Don Marshall, Coach/Undefeated/Oakwood Little League/1982," which, ideally, is also included here.
Important note with reference to the authenticity of Derek Jeter's printed signature on this ball: James Spence Authentications has examined the ball, and unfortunately had absolutely no way to authenticate any of the signatures, including Derek Jeter's. Not surprisingly, they just don't have Derek Jeter signature or writing examples of any kind dating from 1982 (when he was eight years old) with which to compare. We assume that this ball was personally signed by Jeter in 1982, and are certain that this ball was presented to Coach Marshall by the team, but we do need to make clear that it is simply not possible to obtain authentication on this item, so we are offering it without JSA autograph authentication. Is it possible that Derek Jeter's "signature" was "ghost" signed in 1982? We weren't there. Anything is possible! All we can do is present the items with all the information that we are able to provide.
Accompanying the ball is an official team photo of the 1983 club, still housed in its original cardboard mount (with easel back), that was issued to each player at the time. Jeter, who is clearly recognizable, even at that early age, is pictured kneeling in the middle of the front row. It should be noted that Gatorade used a Little League photo of Jeter, wearing the same green uniform as seen here in this team photo, for a 2006 advertising campaign (a magazine copy of that advertisement is included with the lot). Aside from that photo used by Gatorade, we have never seen another photo of Jeter dating to his Little League years. As such, this is an extremely historically significant photo in that is one of the earliest photos of Jeter in a baseball uniform. (As a point of reference, or at least the closest point of reference that we can provide, a Little League team photo including rock star Kurt Cobain appeared as Lot 1434 in REA's April 2005 auction, where it realized $1,624.) The photo (6.25 x 4.5) remains in Near Mint to Mint condition.
Both Donald and David Marshall have fond memories of their early association with Jeter, as expressed in each of their individual LOAs. Donald Marshall (in part): The first time I saw Derek was at Oakwood Little League team tryouts. He hit well and made a specific motion each time he was at bat. Each time I have watched Derek hit as a major leaguer with the New York Yankees, I notice each time he is waiting for the pitch, he uses the same stance and motion I noticed back in 1982. Having Derek on the team was always a pleasure. Not only did Derek's enthusiasm and skill help spur the team to go undefeated, but his family accompanied him to all the games. His father, mother, and sister were all a pleasure to have known…Derek's talents were always apparent. I have enjoyed watching Derek's successful career with the Yankees. I have treasured this ball throughout the years.
David Marshall (in part): Derek Jeter played on my Kalamazoo Michigan Oakwood Little League 1982 minor league team. To my knowledge this was the first year any of us had played minor league baseball...I remember going undefeated with Derek that year and can vividly recall his love for the game. He had a determination and skill set notches above the rest of the players. My father has kept the signed team ball and trophy [ball holder] on his dresser since the day he received it. I kept our team picture that includes Derek Jeter in my dresser drawer at my parent's house, and did not realize I had kept it until Derek was well into his professional career...Now that Derek is on his "farewell tour" our family felt that it would be fitting to retire our collection to another individual or institution that can appreciate the items as much as we have.
As most collectors are aware, Derek Jeter's final season has resulted in an increased demand for his memorabilia, especially game-used and signed items. While there are many Jeter collectibles, few are as interesting as the offered items, which are not only the earliest Jeter pieces we have ever seen offered at auction, but certainly among the rarest as well. The ball itself is unique as the only ball presented by the team to Coach Marshall, while the team photo is the first example to ever be offered at auction. (Each team member received a photo, so others could theoretically surface.) Together, along with the special presentational ball holder and letters of provenance, they represent one of the most significant and fascinating Jeter offerings imaginable. We cannot help but think that no matter what the lot realizes, years from now, collectors will always remember this lot. This is a lot with a story! And wherever it winds up, we hope it will be displayed for baseball fans of all ages, and inspire future Little Leaguers and all youngsters alike. A portion of the proceeds for this lot will be donated by REA to Derek Jeter's charitable Turn 2 Foundation, which promotes healthy living and goals for kids. SOLD FOR $14,400
(Click the smaller thumbnails to the left and right (if any) to cycle through each photo in the gallery of images for this lot.)