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Lot # 878 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Circa Early 1920s Hank O'Day Signed Ball - Newest Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $7,110.00

Exceedingly rare signature example of newly elected Hall of Fame member Hank O'Day. With O'Day's election to the Hall of Fame in 2013, he instantly skyrocketed to the top of the want list for nearly every Hall of Fame autograph collector. Offered here is perhaps the most desirable and rarest form of O'Day's signature: on a baseball. O'Day has signed the official National League ball, "Henry O'Day," in black fountain pen alone on a side panel, partially written atop the Spalding logo. Although the signature is light, it is clearly legible, and grades "3/4." There are three other signatures on this ball, two of which belong to outfielder Michael Francis Mitchell. Both of the Mitchell signatures are signed in black fountain pen on separate side panels, with one scripted "M. F. Mitchell Jr." ("5/6") and the other "Mike Mitchell" ("7"). The third signature on the ball is that of Babe Ruth, however, the signature, while obviously vintage, is not authentic and probably simply reflects someone writing Ruth's name on the ball (purpose unknown). Interestingly, our consignor purchased this ball at auction many years ago, where it was sold together with another ball signed by Mitchell that also displayed a non-authentic Ruth signature. This ball has remained in his possession since that time and his reluctance to part with it over these many years was always predicated on his hope and belief that O'Day would someday be inducted into the Hall of Fame. That "O'Day" is now here (sorry, we couldn't resist) and we are both honored and pleased that he chose Robert Edward Auctions to offer this singular rarity in the year coinciding with O'Day's induction into the Hall. Hank O'Day passed away in 1935 at the age of seventy-three, which was one year prior to the establishment of the Baseball Hall of Fame, thereby insuring the extreme rarity of his signature for all eternity. We are not sure exactly how many Hank O'Day signature examples exist, but the number is certainly very low. Outside of a few examples housed in the Hall of Fame, we believe that there are probably fewer than five O'Day signatures in private hands, and we have never seen or heard of a Hank O'Day signed baseball until now. The appeal of this ball, aside from its rarity of course, is that it presents beautifully as an O'Day single-signed ball, for which probably no other example exists. While we have no additional information regarding the ball's provenance, we note that Mitchell played for O'Day in Cincinnati in 1912, during O'Day's one-year tenure as manager of the Reds.

O'Day enjoyed a long career in baseball, first as a pitcher, then as an umpire, with two short managerial stints in between. He had a modest career won-loss record of 73-110 during his seven years as a pitcher in the Majors (1884-1890), but he did enjoy a measure of significant success. O'Day posted a 9-1 record with the Giants in 1889, plus two more wins in the club's World Series triumph over Brooklyn that fall. The following year he won twenty-two games for New York's entry in the Players League. Despite those achievements, O'Day is best remembered today for his central role in what is perhaps the most memorable and controversial play in baseball history: Merkle's Boner. O'Day was the home-plate umpire that ruled New York Giants first baseman Fred Merkle out on a force play in a game against the Cubs in 1909 after Merkle had failed to touch second base following an apparent two-out ninth-inning game-winning hit by Al Bridwell. That decision, which resulted in a tie instead of a Giants victory, eventually cost the Giants the pennant because the two clubs finished in a tie for first at the end of the season. The Cubs then won the one-game playoff. The ball displays moderate-to-heavy soiling, but the main manufacturer's stampings remain legible. In Very Good condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $7,110.00


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