1984 Roger Maris Pro-Model "Old Timers' Day" Bat from the Day the Yankees Retired His Number (Last Appearance At Yankee Stadium)

Sold For: $3,819

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1372

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This Roger Maris pro-model bat, which was used by Maris during the 1984 New York Yankees Old Timers' Day game, is undoubtedly the finest Roger Maris post-career bat extant, both in terms of its historical significance and provenance. The 1984 New York Yankees Old Timers' Day game, held on July 22nd, was a particularly special event, as the main festivities that day centered around the Yankees bestowing their greatest honor upon Roger Maris: the retirement of his uniform number "9" and the unveiling of his plaque in Monument Park (Elston Howard's number was also retired that day). The plaque, which will forever stand among those of the other Yankees immortals, reads in part "A great player and author of one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of major league baseball." The timing of the ceremony was especially noteworthy. Maris had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer, in 1983 and the 1984 Yankees Old Timers' Day was the last one he would ever attend. Maris eventually succumbed to his illness the following year, passing away on December 14, 1985. The pro-model bat, which is an H&B signature model ("O16"), dates from the 1973 to 1975 manufacturing period and features Maris' uniform number ("9") written on the knob in black marker. The bat, which is not cracked, displays moderate use, including a number of distinct ball marks on either side of the barrel and rack marks. Evidence of its use is not surprising, as research reveals that Maris was the hitting star of the 1984 Yankees Old Timers' Day game. Maris' single drove in the lone run for the Yankees Old Timers in the two-inning game, a fitting finale to Maris' final day in the sun at Yankee Stadium. This bat, aside from the fact that it is quite probably the last bat Maris ever used in an actual game, also has a special chain of provenance. It originates from former New York Yankees pitcher Stan Bahnsen, who personally obtained it from Maris following the 1984 Old Timers' Day game. Bahnsen, in turn, later sold it to world-renowned bat authenticator and collector John Taube in 1995, and it is accompanied by a one-page typed letter (with its original mailing envelope) directly from Bahnsen to Taube, in which he explains how he acquired it. In full: "Dear John, This letter is to verify that the Roger Maris bat that you have was used by Roger in the 1984 New York Yankees Oldtimers game at Yankee Stadium. It was a bat given to me by Roger Maris as a gift from one ex-Yankee to another. Sincerely, Stan Bahnsen [signed]." Bahnsen and Maris played together with the Yankees in 1966, and, as evidenced here, remained friends throughout their retirement years. Maris pro-model bats have always been highly prized by collectors and we cannot imagine a more significant or desirable example dating from his post-playing care than this offering: the final bat used by Maris at Yankee Stadium on the day the Yankees retired his number. The bat is also accompanied by a racing program from Belmont Park (New York), dated July 23, 1984, that is inscribed in black ink "To Larry - Good Luck - Roger Maris" (grading "10") on an interior page. Ex. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).

SOLD FOR $3,819

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