January 2013 Auction
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on:
The custom of signing baseballs antedated Babe Ruth, of course, as it is said that Mike "King" Kelley is the first Baseball player to have ever been requested for an autograph on a horse-hided orb. But for the first half-century of the game—beginning in the 1870s or so—an autographed ball was quite a rarity. The major leagues ordained that balls were to be kept in play until they were no longer usable, and spectators were obligated to throw back any sphere that came their way. Not until 1920, the year the Red Sox traded Ruth to the Yankees, did the leagues keep fresh balls in good supply and allow spectators to keep what fell in their laps. Fans, especially kids, began lying in wait after games for players to sign their trophies. The evocative power of the signed baseball however reached its zenith during the heyday of the greatest ballplayer to ever live, Babe Ruth! Just as Babe Ruth was the ideal character to bind up the wounds that the National Pastime had endured during the 1919 Black Sox scandal with his triumphant play, indeed he was equally the saving grace to the game of Baseball with his larger than life persona ushering the game into a glorious future. Interacting with a Baseball crazy American public, the Babe saw fit to affix his flowing near perfectly scripted salutation to most any ball he could, none the while ever being able to keep up with the demand. As popular as Babe Ruth was during the 1920's and 1930's there was one man in the United States that enjoyed nearly the same type of adulation but for an entirely different reason, that man was Alphonse "Al" Gabriel Capone. "Scarface" was a notorious gangster who ran an organized crime syndicate in Chicago during the 1920s. Capone, who was both charming and charitable as well as powerful and vicious, became an iconic figure of the successful American gangster. Al Capone, then only 26-years old, was in charge of a very large crime organization that included brothels, nightclubs, dance halls, race tracks, gambling establishments, restaurants, speakeasies, breweries, and distilleries. As a major crime boss in Chicago, Capone put himself in the public's eye. Capone was an outlandish character. He dressed in colorful suits, wore a white fedora hat, proudly displayed his 11.5 carat diamond pinky ring, and would often pull out his huge roll of bills while out in public places. It was hard not to notice Al Capone. Capone was also known for his generosity. He would frequently tip a waiter $100, had standing orders in Cicero to hand out coal and clothes to the needy during the cold winters, and opened some of the first soup kitchens during the Great Depression.There were also numerous stories of how Capone would personally help out when he heard a hard-luck story, such as a woman considering turning to prostitution to help her family or a young kid who couldn't go to college because of the high cost of tuition. Capone was so generous to the average citizen that some even considered him a modern-day Robin Hood. The featured keepsake is an immensely rare item and is widely thought to be the only signed Baseball featuring the two most iconic men from the roaring 1920's through the 1930's depression era of America. The offered ball traces its lineage back like a fine wine or a champion race horse. In 1931, the year that Al Capone was on trial for tax evasion, the New York Yankees played at Comiskey Stadium on Chicago's south side on three different occasions including a one game stint on 5/9 as well as two other five games series on 6/23-6/25 as well as 8/23-8/26. The featured historically significant ball was signed by Al Capone who was a known Baseball fan and although signing the ball first opted for a side panel full while recognizing that he was amongst the royalty of the game. None other than New York Yankee Hall Of Famer Herb Pennock was the one who asked for the feared gangsters penmanship upon the ball, after being granted the Capone autograph Pennock thought it would create quite an heirloom if he had his teammate and friend Babe Ruth add his autograph to the ball. Ruth as if transfixed by by the association to the gangland legend has added a prominently large well scripted and flowing ensemble that more than gracefully completes this astonishing duo of the two most prominent Americans of the time! The ball is consigned to MHCC from the family of Hall Of Famer Eddie Collins and Hall Of Famer Herb Pennock who originally obtained the amazing sphere. Eddie Collins son Eddie Collins Jr. who also played in the Major Leagues for three seasons married the daughter of Herb Pennock who had gotten the ball as well as the 1927 Yankee reunion ball offered within this auction from her father. Both of the baseballs have been held tightly within the grips of the Collins/Pennock family ever since the day day they were obtained and are both being offered publicly for the very first time at auction. The ball is supported by a great deal of amazing evidence that includes the following: A tremendous hand written account of the ball from Eddie Collins grandson Pete Collins in which he relates an account of Miller Huggins reprimanding Yankee players for interacting with such an unsaverable character such as Capone before a game. Also included is an interview of Pete Collins from the pages of Sports Collectors Digest in the mid 1990's in which he recounts the offered ball and its place within his famous families history. As well there are several photographs displayed upon our website that were offered up by the Collins family as testimony as to the authenticity of the esteemed orb including one of which Pete Collins mother the daughter of Herb Pennock is being held as a small girl by Babe Ruth as well as several others of Herb Pennock receiving the Babe Ruth All American award from Babe Ruth as well a stunning George Brace original photograph of Herb Pennock with a stunning autograph to Eddie Collins! (Please note that the photos are not being offered with the ball and have been returned to the consignor) Mile High Card Company while doing our due diligence and research uncovered that the Reach OAL William Harridge baseball that contains the two astonishing autographs was only available for use in the American League from 1931-34 as evidenced by the "stars" on the stampings. This is exceptionally relevant in telling when the ball was signed as Alphonse Capone was found guilty of Federal Tax Evasion on October 17, 1931 and sentenced to an eleven year prison sentence with bail being denied. Capone was immediately reprimanded into custody and began serving his sentence at a Federal prison in Atlanta and then after four years he served the rest of his time at Alcatraz until he was released for good behavior in 1939. This means that the only time that Al Capone could have signed the ball was at the three aforementioned series in 1931 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. A truly imagination conjuring keepsake and collectible that intertwines the two most powerful personalities and figures of the first half of the century on a medium that affords enthusiasts of the ultimate presentation. LOA James Spence Authentication (JSA) and John Reznikoff- University Archives.
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