Sotheby’s and SCP Auctions will offer three unprecedented single-owner collections in their upcoming auction: The Estate of Casey Stengel, The Collection of Mitsuhiko Fujita featuring memorabilia from the 1934 Tour of Japan and possibly the finest private collection of Hall of Fame basketball jerseys ever to come up for auction.
Additional highlights in its June 5 auction include a 1931 Lou Gehrig Yankees home jersey, a selection of Jim Thorpe letters and other materials from his personal archive, Walter Johnson’s single-signed baseball from the last out of the 1924 World Series and a significant array of baseball cards, game-used bats, boxing and golf memorabilia. The approximately 360 lots, expected to bring between $3-$4.5 million, will be on public exhibition at Sotheby’s New York from May 31 through June 4.
Of the selection of material slated for the sale Dan Imler, managing director of SCP Auctions, stated, “In every Sotheby’s/SCP Auctions sale, we take pride in bringing forth historically important material that is fresh to the marketplace or largely uncirculated. The majority of the property offered in this sale, whether part of a collection or an individually consigned item, comes from either it’s original owner or a very small chain of ownership. As such, collectors will see many of the finest pieces in the sale for the first time in the pages of our catalog.”
Lee Dunbar, director of the Collectibles Department, remarked about the property, “This auction offers the greatest depth we’ve ever had in a sports memorabilia sale at Sotheby’s. From the Estate of Casey Stengel and The Collection of Mitsuhiko Fujita, unearthed for the first time in 70 years, to the collection of basketball jerseys and the Lou Gehrig jersey, collectors will, more than ever, have an unparalleled selection from which to choose.”
Casey Stengel Estate
Among the marquee items being offered by the Stengel Estate are the Hall of Famer’s 1951 World Series ring, won during his only season as manager for both Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle; his 1969 Mets championship ring and his Hall of Fame Plaque. The estate collection also includes team-signed baseballs, photos, scrapbooks, contracts, World Series bats, caps and cleats, programs, press pins and memorabilia from the 1955 Tour of Japan, including his own Kimono and Geisha Wig.
The Collection of Mitsuhiko Fujita
One of the highlights of this private collection is a 1934 Tour of Japan team-signed baseball in its original Japanese ball box. No tour team in the history of baseball had a more impressive lineup, headlined by Babe Ruth, Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. Also from the same tour is a Ruth single-signed baseball in original Japanese ball box; a Ruth/ Gehrig signed snapshot photo and three Ruth signed snapshots.
This collection also represents an assemblage of autographs of prewar Japanese and American Nisei baseball legends. The Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame autographed photo collection featuring 41 circa 1920s-30s autographed photographs, some of which are the first autographs of these players, managers and founding pioneers of Japanese professional baseball.
The offering also includes a 1935 Dai Nippon Tokyo Yakyu Club autographed team photo, Japan’s longest standing professional team.
Private collection of important basketball jerseys
The more than 80 lots recall the playing days of basketball legends from all eras: from a George Mikan 1947-48 Minneapolis Lakers road jersey, a Bill Russell 1967-68 Boston Celtics home jersey and a Larry Bird 1992 Dream Team jersey. Also highlighted is Willis Reed’s 1969-70 New York Knicks home jersey from his historic performance in the 1970 Championship Series leading his team to its NBA title.
Jim Thorpe letters and personal archive
Included in this offering is a group of 14 letters from Thorpe to fiance Freeda Kirkpatrick during the summer of 1924 with baseball content. A second grouping contains 14 letters from Thorpe to Kirkpatrick from late 1925 and early 1926 with football content, just two months after his marriage to Freeda. Also offered is a signed Thorpe movie contract, citizenship letter, marriage certificate, Western Union telegram announcing his marriage, divorce decree and more.
Walter Johnson’s single-signed baseball from last out of the 1924 World Series
Passed down from Johnson through the generations and consigned by his grandson, this ball was used to get the final out during Game Seven of the 1924 World Series, the pinnacle of baseball in the Nation’s capital. This ball is signed by Johnson and notated “World Series 1924.” This keepsake, one of only three balls personally saved by the Washington Senators pitcher, is estimated to sell for $60,000-$80,000.
Other keys include:
? 1927 Ruth and Brother Mathias (St. Mary’s School for Boys) dual-signed baseball
? Ted Williams’ cleats worn for his final home run
? Circa 1870s tintype of two African-American ballplayers
? 1902 Chicago Union Giants cabinet photo representing the earliest known image of Rube Foster
? Philadelphia Royal Giants Japan Tour team-signed baseball, 1928, also from the Fujita Collection
? Jack Johnson’s confession letter to Nat Fleisher of Ring Magazine
? The only known George Dixon autograph
? A signed contract for the first million-dollar gate: Jack Dempsey vs. Georges Carpentier’s “Battle of the Champions”
? 1820s large-format color lithograph featuring boxing greats Jack Randall and James Ward
? Bobby Jones’ first edition copy of Bobby Jones on Golf book inscribed to Gene Sarazen
? The earliest known Tiger and Earle Woods autographed golf scorecard