A baseball autographed by 11 inaugural Hall of Fame inductees at the 1939 induction ceremony in Cooperstown sold for $623,369 in SCP Auctions’ recently concluded 2018 Summer Premier Auction.
The previous auction record for a signed baseball was $343,650, which was established in May 2013 for a Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig dual-signed ball that was graded NM-MT+ 8.5 by PSA/DNA.
The baseball contains signatures from Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Connie Mack, Ty Cobb, Pete Alexander, Cy Young, George Sisler, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Eddie Collins and Nap Lajoie, each of which made the trek to Cooperstown on June 12, 1939 to help mark the 100th Anniversary of baseball. These 11 original players elected to the Hall of Fame were still living and able to accept an invitation extended to each of them to attend their formal induction to the Hall.
Part of the celebration was an exhibition game between All-Star teams representing both leagues. As the American League’s premier third baseman at the time, Marv Owen of the Chicago White Sox was selected to play on the team coached by Honus Wagner. During the course of that special day in Cooperstown, Owen would come to possess this ball signed by each of the 11 inaugural Hall of Fame inductees. His treasured heirloom was preserved for decades by Owen, and later by his family after his passing in 1991. It stands today as the finest autographed baseball in the world, and one of the most significant artifacts the hobby has ever seen. Its most astonishing trait is the convergence on one side panel of what can be called the “Holy Trinity” of baseball icons: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. Whether this placement was born serendipitously or by Owen’s own engineering is a mystery. Nonetheless, the result is astonishing. That sentiment was shared by Kevin Keating of Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA/DNA), who verified the ball’s legitimacy.
“Ultimately that panel of Cobb, Ruth, Wagner is what puts it over the top,” Keating said. “Those are the elite of the elite. The fact that he got those guys the way he did, in that perfect order on one panel, it’s almost as if it’s by design.”
SCP Auctions President David Kohler stated, “The sheer greatness of this ball is simply unrivaled. Its historical importance compounded by the impeccable provenance and state of preservation elevate it to singular status as the most important and valuable autographed baseball in the world.”
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