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1948 Washington Senators Team-Signed Ball with Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, and Mark McGwire!
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $2,160
Unusual, interesting, curious, incongruous, call this ball what you like, but there is no denying the fact that it is unique. We are absolutely certain that no other ball in the hobby today features the signatures of Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Mark McGwire, and twenty-two members of the 1948 Washington Senators. The ball is accompanied by a letter from the original owner explaining the circumstances of its signing; however, the McGwire signature was personally obtained a few years ago by the original owner in order to have the signatures of, what was at the time, baseball's top three single-season home-run record-holders on the very same ball. The signature of Babe Ruth is penned in blue ink (grading "5") and is located on a side panel, just to the left of the ball label. Maris' black-ink signature ("8") sits upon a separate side panel, while that of McGwire, which is also scripted in black ink ("8"), is situated on a third side panel, just to the left of the sweet spot. Now for the story:
According to the account in the accompanying letter, the former owner was a student at Joe Stripps Baseball School in Orlando, Florida, in 1948 and it was at that time that he obtained the signatures of the Washington Senators, including team owner Clark Griffith. As for the Ruth and Maris signatures, he writes: "I was in the all star game at the end of the school. I got a hit and scored. When I went to the dugout and got to the bench, I was startled when 'The Babe' came over and shook my hand. I didn't know that he was there. He graciously signed my ball. Many years later, I was a neighbor with Roger Maris when he finished with the St. Louis Cardinals. He signed my Babe Ruth ball in 1973."
The rarity of the signatures of Ruth, Maris, and McGwire all appearing on the same ball is obviously extreme. It is such an unlikely collecting feat, due to the different eras in which they played, that we feel confident in stating that if it is not unique (and it may be), this is one of only a very few balls in existence featuring the signatures of Ruth, Maris, and McGwire. It is also important to note that such a ball today would be nearly impossible to duplicate unless one already had a ball bearing the signatures of Ruth and Maris. By any measure, this ball is undeniably a conversation piece and one that is sure to elicit a variety of reactions from both casual fans and hobby enthusiasts. The remaining twenty-two signatures on the ball are those of Ferrell (sweet spot, coach), Candini (sweet spot), Clark Griffith (team owner), Haefner, Curtis, Lyons, Robertson, West (coach), Murray, Pieretti, Thompson, Coan, Ferrick, Evans, Kuhel (Mgr.), Altrock (coach), Yost, Kozar, Masterson, McBride, Scarborough, and one other (illegible). The signatures are all fairly uniform in grade, averaging "6." It is interesting to note that the Senators signatures on this ball define it as having been signed during spring training of 1948 (a fact corroborated by the letter), as a few of the players included here failed to make the Senators final roster. This ball has appeared at public auction once before, as Lot 1132 in REA's May 2008 sale, where it realized $2,937. It has been consigned to this auction directly by the original purchaser. The MacGregor "Official 97 League" ball displays minor abrasions and a few small areas of light discoloration, none of which affect the Ruth, Maris, or McGwire signatures. Very Good to Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $2,160
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