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I love sports, but baseball kind of bores me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like baseball collectables. I remember being a kid and the excitement of getting Pete Rose and Johnny Bench rookie cards. I remember at a card show buying a Robin Yount rookie card for $10, after a kid had it autographed by Yount (his dad freaked out because he said it totally ruined the value of the card; it increased it for me).
I always laugh at the price people pay for baseballs in historic games. Charlie Sheen paid around $93,000 for the baseball that rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs. He ended up selling it for around $400,000. Often times, those balls lose value. For example, someone paid $3 million for the baseball Mark McGwire hit his record-breaking 70th home run. I’m guessing it wouldn’t fetch $500 if he tried to sell it today. That’s because Barry Bonds ended up breaking that record with 73. And, McGwire didn’t make the Hall of Fame because of the steroid use (allegedly). He may never get in. Now, a home run record ball from Roger Maris or Hank Aaron, would probably be worth some cash.
I’d rather have an autographed baseball than one of those historic ones. And one of those just broke a record, too. It’s the most an autographed baseball has ever sold for.
It’s signed by 11 players at the first Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1939.
It sold for over $623,000, and to be honest with you, I’m not sure why it didn’t reach a million; because of where it was signed and who signed it. It’s autographed by Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Connie Mack, George Sisler, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, and Grover Cleveland Alexander. Unfortunately, Connie Mack inscribed it “Hey Harry, Have a bitchin’ summer.” (okay, that last line was a joke; just wanted to see if you were paying attention).
Hardcore baseball fans, who are known for being obsessed with statistics, will surely want to know how much the previous autographed baseball went for. Well Shirley, it was a ball signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It went for $343,000. Now, the statistic that baseball fans don’t care about but autograph collectors do -- the previous price paid for this baseball. You’re going to kick yourself for not buying it when you had the chance. Just as we curse our mom for throwing out all our baseball cards when we went to college -- and that Mickey Mantle rookie card could’ve paid for college -- this will make you cringe. In 1997, Christie’s auction house sold this ball for a mere $55,000. Nice investment for the seller. Now for those curious as to how this was originally acquired...former Chicago White Sox player Marv Owen and his former teammate Hank Greenberg (who ended up becoming a Hall of Famer), were playing an exhibition game at Cooperstown. Greenberg brought two baseballs, but he got nervous and ended up not asking for autographs. Owen volunteered to do it, so Greenberg gave him one of the balls.
Owen didn’t use the ball to teach his son how to throw a fastball. He smartly put it in a fur lined glove, inside a safe deposit box. It wasn’t until he died in 1991 that the ball was removed, with all the signatures in excellent condition.
Play ball !