Hilton Smith Single-Signed Ball

Sold For: $3,231

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1105

Item Year: 1977

Category: Autographed Baseballs/Flats/Photos

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Official National League (Giles) ball inscribed in black ink by Hall of Fame Negro League pitcher Hilton Smith. In addition to signing the ball across the sweet spot, where he has also listed his position and team affiliation, Smith makes further note of his years of service in the Negro Leagues on a side panel. The sweet spot inscription reads "Hilton Smith pitcher/Kansas City Monarchs." The secondary notation, "Played 19teen yrs/15 with KC Monarchs," appears on the panel directly below. Ideally, both inscriptions can be easily read when the ball is properly presented, thereby maximizing its display value. Both Smith's signature and the additional scripted notations grade "8/9." Hilton Smith single-signed balls are exceptionally rare, and this is the first example we have ever offered. Smith was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, eighteen years after his death. For that reason, his signature, in any form, is scarce today, especially on a baseball. Based upon the manufacturer's stamps, this ball was produced in either 1979 or 1980. Since Smith passed away in 1983, this is no doubt one of a relatively small number of balls signed by him shortly before his death. According to his Negro League and Major League contemporaries alike, Hilton Smith was one of the top pitchers to ever take the mound. Despite pitching in the shadow of Satchel Paige for much of his career, Smith’s accomplishments actually rivaled those of his more flamboyant teammate. Smith won twenty or more games each and every season with the Monarchs (counting both league and non-league games) and appeared in six Negro League All-Star Games. He was at his best between the years 1939 and 1942, when he won ninety-three games against only eleven losses. Smith was actually courted by the Dodgers in 1947. Unfortunately, the invitation came too late in his career and he had to respectfully decline the offer. He officially retired in 1948. The ball displays moderate age toning and there is a vertical scratch on the sweet spot that affects the word "pitcher" and "Monarchs." Because of the elaborate additional inscriptions, this is a particularly ideal example of this single-signed extreme rarity. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,500+. SOLD FOR $3,231

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