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Lot # 946 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1934 Tour of Japan Team-Signed Baseball with Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx with Original Box!

Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $8,888

In 1934 Connie Mack led a group of Major League players on a highly publicized postseason goodwill tour of Japan. That much-celebrated tour is especially noteworthy as it was the only overseas tour in which both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig participated. Offered is a Mizuno "Official University League" ball signed in black fountain pen by twelve members of that famous overseas tour. Babe Ruth's signature graces one of the two sweet spots (there are no manufacturer's stampings visible on the ball), grading "6/7," while Gehrig's signature ("8") shares a side panel with that of Charlie Gehringer. The remaining signatures on the ball are those of Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Gomez, Connie Mack, Earl Averill, Lefty O'Doul, Earl Whitehill (other sweet spot), Frank Hayes, Joe Cascarella, and one other (illegible). Ideally, we know exactly when and where this particular ball was signed based upon the vintage black-ink notations on side panel that read "November 25th 1934/Koshien Ground." Interestingly, the game on November 25th, at Koshien Stadium in Osaka, was one of the few games on the tour that Connie Mack's "All-American Team," as it was known, played an intrasquad game instead of facing a local Japanese club. Also interesting is the fact that Moe Berg did not sign this ball. This is extremely fascinating and significant because, as this ball was signed on a day in which the All-American Team did not play a Japanese club (essentially an off day), Moe Berg may have been absent because he was busy elsewhere attending to his primary mission: spying. This is not just idle speculation: It was just four days later, on November 29, 1934, while the rest of the team was playing a game in Omiya, that Berg departed from the team (under the guise of allegedly visiting the daughter of American ambassador Joseph Grew in the hospital) to film extremely strategic images of the city and harbor from the roof of one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo. This mission required elaborate planning in the days immediately preceding. With the exception of the one signature that has faded beyond legibility, the signatures range from "6" to "9," averaging "7." The ball is lightly toned, with a few minor abrasions (affecting only the Mack signature), and is in Very Good to Excellent condition overall. The ball is accompanied by its scarce, original Mizuno box, which features both Japanese and American text. The red, cylindrical box is in Very Good condition overall, with minor tape repair to the bottom lid. This ball comes with the special provenance of having once resided in the famed Barry Halper Collection. Our consignor purchased it at the 1999 sale of the Halper Collection, where it appeared as Lot 1028 and realized a final sales price of $18,400 (the original auction labels accompany each piece). It has remained in his sole possession until this time. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000++. SOLD FOR $8,888

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