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Circa 1948 Mel Ott Single-Signed Ball
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $7,110
Official National League (Frick) ball signed by Hall of Fame outfielder Mel Ott on a side panel. Ott has inscribed the ball "To Fred/Best Wishes/Mel Ott" in black fountain pen, with both the inscription and signature grading "5/6." Ideally, the "Fred" to whom this ball is inscribed is none other than our consignor's father, who obtained it personally from Ott some sixty years ago. According to our consignor, who has provided a one-page typed-signed letter of provenance, his father obtained this ball directly from Ott during a visit to Shibe Park in the late 1940s. It has remained in in the family's sole possession since the day it was signed. Based upon the manufacturer's stampings, the ball dates to the 1946-1951 manufacturing period. As most collectors are aware, Mel Ott single-signed balls are rare and represent the most elusive of all the 500 Home Run Club members. The reasons for that are threefold. The first, of course, is his untimely death in 1958 at the age of forty-nine. Also, Ott was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951, so Hall of Fame autograph collectors had just a short eight-year window to obtain his signature. Lastly, it should be remembered that during that time single-signed balls, which were much more expensive than other options, such as a photo, government postcard, or a sheet of paper, had not yet become the ideal for most autograph collectors. Each of those factors is responsible for the extreme scarcity of Ott singles today. The fact that this example was obtained in person by our consignor's father, and has never before been seen in the modern collecting world, gives it an extremely desirable original-family provenance that is rare and ideal. The ball appears to have once been coated with a light layer of protective shellac, much of which has flaked off over time, resulting in its slightly uneven coloration. A few minor abrasions are also evident. In Very Good condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $7,110
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