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George Sosnak "Branch Rickey" Hand-Painted Ball
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $10,073
Elaborate folk-art tribute ball, hand-painted by former minor-league umpire George Sosnak (1922-1992), commemorating the baseball career of Branch Rickey. Illustrations of Rickey adorn three of the side panels, while every inch of the remaining surface area features Sosnak's meticulous hand-painted lettering. When creating a ball dedicated to a specific individual, Sosnak customarily began with a ball autographed by that person. He then incorporated the autograph within his design, often enhancing it with his favorite medium: India Ink. This ball; however, is an exception in that Sosnak artistically recreated Rickey's signature himself and worked into a bust-length portrait image of the legendary "Mahatma." One of the other two illustrations pictures Rickey with Jackie Robinson at the historic signing of his Brooklyn Dodgers contract, while the third recreates Rickey's Hall of Fame plaque. The text provides copious biographical information about Rickey that encompasses all facets of his career as a player, manager, and front-office executive. Although Sosnak was a prolific artist, by some accounts creating over 800 illustrated baseballs, the popularity of his works has continued to grow with each passing decade. Those commemorating historic events, such as this example, have always been particularly highly prized by collectors. Sosnak is nearly as well known in the folk-art community as he is in the field of baseball collectibles, so it is no surprise that examples of his work can be found in both the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. One of Sosnak's balls (detailing JFK’s Opening Day pitch at a 1962 Senators game) can even be found in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Sosnak coated the ball with a thin layer of protective shellac (a common practice of his) and a aside from a few tiny abrasions (the largest affects the side panel with text only), it remains in Excellent to Mint condition overall. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $10,073
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