Bill Klem Signed Ball

Sold For: $1,058

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1041

Item Year: 1942

Category: Autographed Baseballs/Flats/Photos

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Official National League (Frick) ball signed by legendary Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem. Klem has signed the ball "W. J. Klem" in blue ink (grading "7") on a side panel. While this appears to be a single-signed ball, and most likely is, James Spence Authentication has noted the possibility that a second signature may have been removed from a side panel. Regardless, it displays as a single-signed Klem ball and remains an exceptional example of what is regarded as one of the most elusive of all Hall of Fame "singles." The reason for the rarity of Bill Klem single-signed balls is two fold. First Bill Klem was an umpire, not a player, and therefore few fans or collectors sought his signature on anything, let alone a baseball. Why would they? During the time Klem umpired, he was much more likely to have encountered an empty soda bottle coming from a patron as opposed to an autograph book or ball. Due to the nature of the job, umpires, even one as good as Klem, have few fans. The second reason for the rarity of Bill Klem single-signed balls is timing. Klem passed away in 1951, but was not elected to the Hall of Fame until 1953; thus Hall of Fame autograph collectors did not have the opportunity to obtain his signature following his induction. Based upon its stampings, this ball dates to the 1946-1951 manufacturing period. While we have no way of knowing how many Bill Klem single-signed balls exist, we can only recall having seen a handful over the years. Bill Klem, nicknamed "The Old Arbitrator," is regarded as the finest umpire in the history of the game. Klem was a National League umpire from 1905 through 1940, but during his first sixteen years he worked exclusively behind the plate on account of his extraordinary talent for calling balls and strikes. Klem was also an innovator and is credited with being the first umpire to wear an inside chest protector. In 1953 he joined Thomas Connolly as one of the two first umpires inducted into the Hall of Fame. The ball displays light soiling and a few tiny areas of light age toning. In exceptional Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000. SOLD FOR $1,058

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