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Circa 1955 Roderick Wallace Single-Signed Ball
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $5,700
Exceedingly rare Roderick Wallace single-signed ball on which he has also included a handwritten list of his former teams. Wallace has scripted his name, "Roderick J. Wallace," in black ink across the sweet spot of this official American League (Harridge) ball, with the signature grading "4/5." On the panel directly below, also in black ink (grading "2/3), Wallace has listed his former ball clubs, along with his years of service for each. Although the years are partially faded, one can see that he has listed, in chronological order, the four major league teams he played with: Cleveland, St. Louis (National League), St. Louis (American League), and St. Louis (National League). Roderick Wallace single-signed balls are practically nonexistent. This is the first we have ever offered and we can only recall having seen one other at auction in the past twenty years (sold for $19,000 in 2012). The reason for the rarity of Wallace singles is twofold. First, Wallace was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953, but died just seven years later, leaving Hall of Fame autograph collectors just a short period of time in which to obtain his signature. (Not surprisingly, this ball dates to the 1952-1959 manufacturing period, when the demand for Wallace's signature was at its height.) Second, and perhaps even more important, was the fact that balls were a large expenditure. During the 1950s, and earlier, most collectors obtained autographs by mail, and the cheapest method was to simply send a player a self-addressed stamped postcard to sign and mail back. A child, and even most adults, could never afford to buy and then mail hundreds of baseballs all over the country. It was neither economical nor practical. For that reason, single-signed balls remained the exception until the 1970s, when conventions and signing shows became popular.
Roderick Wallace is probably one of the most obscure Hall of Fame players, which is most likely the result of his having played for the woeful St. Louis Browns for twenty seasons, beginning in 1899. That, plus the fact that his only postseason appearance was in the 1896 Temple Cup Series, as a pitcher no less (he began his career as a pitcher and moved to the infield in 1897), further removed him from the minds of most fans in his later years. (Wallace holds the record for having played the most years in the Major Leagues without appearing in a World Series game.) Wallace was an outstanding defensive shortstop and even though his lifetime average of .268 is one of the lowest for any Hall of Fame player, his career batting totals are more than respectable, including 2,309 hits, 1,057 runs scored, and 201 stolen bases. The ball displays a few scattered areas of light discoloration (not affecting the signature) and is otherwise in Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $5,700
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