Official American League (Johnson) ball signed in black fountain pen by the following twenty-one members of the 1917 Detroit Tigers: Cobb ("2"), Crawford ("4"), Heilmann ("3"), Jennings (Mgr., "1," very faint, barely visible), Bush, Vitt, Veach, Stanage, Spencer, Harper, B. Jones, Dyer, Walker, Boland, James, Mitchell, Ehmke, Coveleski, Cunningham, Burke (coach), and one other (illegible). Signatures range in grade from "1" to "4," averaging "2/3." Despite the low technical grades of the signatures, nearly all remain very legible. The fact that many of the signatures on this ball are faint is more than understandable given its incredible age; it was exactly ninety-three years ago that Ty Cobb and the other members of the Tigers took this ball in hand and penned their respective names upon it. While we are not sure how prevalent Major League team-signed balls were during the early 1900s, of one thing we are certain: very few have survived. This is one of the earliest team-signed balls we have ever handled; predated only by the 1915 Boston Red Sox example that appeared in our 2008 auction. The rarity of pre 1920 team-signed balls is probably best exemplified by the fact that only two were represented in the entire Barry Halper Collection, which included literally thousands of signed baseballs (1917 New York Giants and 1918 Boston Red Sox). Obviously, one would be hard pressed to find an earlier Detroit Tigers team-signed ball. The ball is moderately soiled, with a few tiny abrasions, but all of the manufacturer's stampings remain remarkably bold and legible. Excellent condition overall. Disclosure per section 13 of REA's terms and conditions: This lot has been consigned from the personal collection of an executive or employee of Robert Edward Auctions (or a relative of an executive or employee).
LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,175
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