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Lot # 877 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1919 Dan Brouthers Single-Signed Ball - Extraordinary Rarity!

Starting Bid - $10,000.00, Sold For - $47,400.00

Official National League (Heydler) ball signed by Hall of Fame first baseman Dan Brouthers. This is a remarkable ball. It is without question one of the most impressive and significant single-signed Hall of Fame baseball rarities that we have ever seen, let alone handled. We last saw it when it appeared as Lot 60 in Robert Edward Auctions' June 1995 sale, at that time selling for a then very impressive $10,800. While we lost track of its whereabouts (until recently, of course) since we last saw it almost twenty years ago, we have always remembered this Brouthers ball as one of the most extraordinary single-signed balls in existence and one of the greatest Hall of Fame signed items of any kind in the collecting world. It was particularly exciting when we received the call about this ball for possible auction from our consignor, a longtime advanced collector who has retired and is now selling his collection, as we were familiar with it and have for so long held it in such high esteem.

It would be hard to imagine a finer or more impressive overall appearance for a single-signed Dan Brouthers ball. The signature, which begins in the west panel and transverses the sweet spot, is beautifully scripted in black fountain pen and grades "7/8." Ideally, we know exactly when this ball was signed, as Brouthers has added the date "May 19, 1919" directly below his signature. All of the manufacturer's labels remain bold and bright and aside from light wear, including a few tiny abrasions, the ball remains in spectacular Excellent to Mint condition. This is the only Dan Brouthers single-signed ball that we know to exist, and it should be emphasized that Brouthers' signature is exceedingly rare in any form. Aside from this example, we cannot even recall the last time we handled a Brouthers signature example or saw one at public auction. Given its extreme rarity, the quality of the signature, its condition, and the status of the player, we believe this ball is worthy of consideration as the single finest Hall of Fame single-signed ball in the hobby.

"Big Dan" Brouthers, whose career spanned the years 1879-1896 (not counting a brief five-game stint with the Giants in 1904) was, arguably, the greatest hitter of the nineteenth century. Not only was he the game's first great slugger, finishing his career with a then-remarkable total of 106 home runs (only three other players hit more home runs than Brouthers between the years 1876 and 1892), he was also the only player to win five batting championships during that era. Additionally, Brouthers was the first player in history to win consecutive batting titles (1882 and 1883) and his .342 lifetime batting average ranks ninth on the all-time list.

As noted in the accompanying LOA from James Spence Authentication, the date ("May 19, 1919") on the ball is also in the hand of Dan Brouthers, and the ball itself dates to the 1918-1924 manufacturing period. When this ball was originally sold at auction by REA in 1995, it was accompanied by a letter from legendary handwriting expert Charles Hamilton attesting to the authenticity of both the inscription and signature. That letter still accompanies the ball (copy only from REA's files; at press time the original has yet to be located due to our consignor's recent move but will almost certainly be found; fortunately REA happened to save a copy from 1995 in our records). While we were not privy to the circumstances of May 19, 1919, that occasioned the signing of this ball, we do know that Brouthers was employed by the New York Giants as a press attendant for many years following his retirement. Therefore, it is possible, if not likely, that this ball was signed for a fan at the Polo Grounds. The Giants hosted the Cincinnati Reds on that date. Dan Brouthers died in 1932 at the age of seventy-four, long before his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 (the Hall of Fame wasn't even founded until 1936). That, plus the fact that he was a nineteenth-century player, and thereby largely forgotten by many early autograph collectors, has resulted in the extreme rarity of his signature today. This is undoubtedly one of the finest Dan Brouthers signed items of any kind in the collecting world and an item that will be a highlight and centerpiece in any advanced baseball memorabilia collection in which it is housed. LOA from James Spence/JSA and LOA from Charles Hamilton. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open).
SOLD FOR $47,400.00


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