The Ultimate Sam Rice Single-Signed Ball ("Stat" Ball)

Sold For: $2,370

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 912

Item Year: 1963

Category: Autographed Baseballs/Flats/Photos

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Single-signed "stat" balls, which are rare for all players as they require so much time, effort, and thought (compared to just signing a ball), have understandably always been popular with collectors because the information provided in the player's hand over and above the signature creates a single-signed ball that towers above a traditional signed ball in significance. That is certainly the case for this rare Sam Rice "stat" ball dating from circa 1963. The Hall of Fame outfielder has beautifully signed the official National League (Giles) in blue ink (grading "9/10") on a side panel. Directly below his signature (descending across the sweet spot and into the next panel) Rice has added the following notations: "Washington 1915-1933/Cleveland 1934/Games 2404, Hits 2987/Life Time/Batting/Average/322/hit/in/31/straight/games 1924." Based upon the manufacturer's label, this ball was produced between the years 1958 and 1969, well before the practice of players adding personal stats to balls became common. Rice was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963 (twenty-nine years after his retirement); therefore, it is probably safe to assume that this ball was signed sometime shortly afterwards, when his signature was in high demand. Rice passed away in 1974 at the age of eighty-four, leaving Hall of Fame collectors with just a short eleven-year "window" to obtain his signature. This is the first such Sam Rice "stat" ball we have ever seen and may possibly be unique. (Interesting note: this ball comes from the same collection as the extraordinary George Sisler single-signed "stat" ball also presented in this auction.) Adding to both its desirability and display value is the ball's remarkable state of preservation. All of the handwritten text is boldly scripted and the ball remains in Near Mint condition, with just a tiny hint of toning the only evidence of its age. This is the ultimate Sam Rice single in all respects and one that would be a very significant addition to even the most advanced Hall of Fame single-signed ball collection. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,370

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