Chuck Klein Single-Signed Ball

Sold For: $5,875

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1044

Item Year: 1942

Category: Autographed Baseballs/Flats/Photos

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Official National League (Frick) ball signed by Hall of Fame outfielder Chuck Klein. Klein has boldly signed his name in black fountain pen (grading "9") on a side panel. Chuck Klein single-signed baseballs are exceptionally rare and this is the only example we can recall ever offering (aside from the long ago offering of this very ball, which was sold by REA in the early 1990s, and has remained in an extremely advanced collection since that time; it has been consigned to this auction directly from the original buyer). The extreme rarity of Chuck Klein singles stems from several reasons: First, Klein passed away prematurely in 1958 at the age of fifty-four, leaving a smaller-than-normal window of opportunity for collectors (most ballplayers of Klein's era lived much longer). Second, he was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame until 1980; therefore many early Hall of Fame autograph collectors had neither the desire nor the foresight to acquire his signature on a ball. In addition, his early date of passing was also long before collecting single-signed balls became popular. Based upon the manufacturer's stamps, this ball was produced between the years 1946 and 1951, and logic dictates that it was probably signed by Klein sometime during that six-year span. Klein, who retired in 1944, suffered a stroke in the 1950s which left him partially paralyzed (another factor contributing to the rarity of his signature on singles). The fact that the signature on this ball is so strong in its execution indicates that it was almost certainly signed by Klein shortly after his retirement and long before his physical condition deteriorated. It seems odd that Klein was so long overlooked by Hall of Fame voters, especially given his .320 lifetime average. Klein, who played with the Philadelphia Phillies for all but two and a half of his seventeen seasons, was one of the game's greatest sluggers. From 1929 through 1933 he led the National League in home runs four times and RBI twice. His greatest season came in 1933, when he captured the Triple Crown by leading the league in average (.368), home runs (28), and RBI (120). He finished his career with 300 home runs and 1,201 RBI. The ball has been coated with a thick layer of protective shellac (applied decades ago) and is otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,500++. SOLD FOR $5,875

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