1924 Walter Johnson Single-Signed Ball

Sold For: $3,851

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 780

Item Year: 1924

Category: Autographed Baseballs/Flats/Photos

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Official American League ball signed by baseball's legendary "Big Train." Johnson's signature has been scripted in blue fountain pen across the sweet spot and grades "6." Although the name of the American League president does not appear on the ball, the manufacturer's stampings date this ball to the 1910-1925 manufacturing period. That dating is consistent with an additional blue-ink notation (not in Johnson's hand), which appears on the panel above Johnson's signature, that reads "6/9/24." Walter Johnson single-signed balls are rare, especially those dating from his active playing career, such as this example. Of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Ruth, Cobb, Mathewson, Wagner, and Johnson), only Christy Mathewson single-signed balls are more elusive than those of Walter Johnson. Despite the fact that the date on this ball is not in Johnson's hand, it is unquestionably a vintage notation and we have no reason to doubt its veracity. If it were signed on that date, then this ball was obtained in Cleveland, where George Uhle and the Indians defeated the Senators by a score of 6-1. Johnson did not appear in the game for Washington, so he might have been a little more accessible to autograph seekers both before and after the game. Although Johnson was playing in his eighteenth major league season in 1924, there was still plenty of life left in his gifted arm, as evidenced by the fact that he led the league in games started (38), wins (23), ERA (158), shutouts (6), and strikeouts (158). In doing so, it marked the third and final time in his career that he achieved the pitching equivalent of the Triple Crown (league-leading totals in wins, ERA, and strikeouts). His individual accomplishments notwithstanding, 1924 was undoubtedly Johnson's most memorable season in baseball for the way in which it ended. The Senators captured the pennant for the first time in Johnson's career in 1924 and it was Johnson that brought the club its first World Championship in franchise history with his extra-inning win in Game 7 of the World Series against the Giants. We have handled very few Walter Johnson single-signed balls over the years and it was been over a decade since the last one appeared in our auction. This is an outstanding Walter Johnson signed ball in all respects, notable for the fact that it was not only signed during his active playing career, but also dates from the Senators first and only World Championship season. The ball displays light toning and a number of minor surface blemishes, but all of the manufacturer's stampings remain bold and legible. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $3,851

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