Appraisal Video: (4:30)
Collectibles, Sports Memorabilia
Leila Dunbar Appraisals & Consulting, LLC
APPRAISER: Okay, Ted, it's sports trivia time. You ready?
APPRAISER: Who are the teams that played in the 1956 World Series?
GUEST: Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees.
APPRAISER: Ding, you're winning the toaster oven. What was the major event that was best known?
GUEST: Perfect game, Don Larsen.
APPRAISER: Excellent. Now for the trip to Cooperstown, are you ready?
GUEST: I'm ready.
APPRAISER: Who is Hank Soar?
GUEST: Hank Soar was an American League umpire who was a very good friend of my father's. They worked together during the off season. My father was a civil engineer for the state of Rhode Island, and Hank drove a snowplow truck in the off season.
APPRAISER: Okay. And he worked the 1956 World Series.
GUEST: Yes, and in the perfect game, he was the first base umpire.
APPRAISER: Very cool.
GUEST: When I was nine years old, after that game, he showed up with four baseballs: a ball that Don Larsen pitched the next to the last out, and the six umpires that were in that series autographed a ball, the Dodgers of that series, and the New York Yankees of that series. He gave me those four baseballs.
APPRAISER: He gave them to you?
GUEST: Well, yes.
APPRAISER: Okay, but through your father.
GUEST: Through my dad, uh-huh. And one day, he came home from work and took me aside. I knew he wanted to tell me something. He took me aside and said, "Those baseballs that Hank gave you, don't lose them. Hang on to those." And about three days later, he died. And so I always kept the baseballs, because he asked me to. I never lost them. Wherever I moved, they were in the closet. They were always with me.
APPRAISER: Wow, so you've had them for 42 years.
GUEST: 42 years. Actually, watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is what got me thinking about the baseballs, so I contacted the curator's office of the Hall of Fame. He told me I needed documentation; I was just a voice over the phone spinning a yarn as far as he was concerned. He got me in touch with Hank, and I went to visit him, and we got the documentation. He told me the story.
APPRAISER: So you have letters of authenticity of all of these. Provenance means everything. Let's take a look at the balls. We have the umpire signed ball, including Hank Soar, with his signature right here. We also have the New York Yankees ball, which was signed by 19 of the Yankees, not all of them. In fact, oddly enough, not signed by Don Larsen. But we do have Yogi Berra, and we do have a faded signature of Mickey Mantle on the sweet spot.
GUEST: Yes, uh-huh.
APPRAISER: And then we have a lovely 1956 World Series Brooklyn Dodgers ball with Jackie Robinson here, among others-- Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, and other greats.
GUEST: Great names.
APPRAISER: So it's a beautiful condition ball. You have to be very careful of fakes and phonies. There are lots of balls that get sold at auction that way, so we take great care to authenticate them. We're going to base everything on what Hank said to you and the notarized documents that you have. Now, this ball, which is blank, was not signed by Don Larsen, but yeah, he talked to you about that ball.
GUEST: About two months ago in Richmond, we met him at a card show. When I handed it to him, he asked what it was. I said it was one of his pitched balls from the perfect game. And he looked up at me and said, "So that's where they all went." And I laughed and said, "Well, that's where this one went."
APPRAISER: And what did Hank tell you about this? Because he remembered it, too.
GUEST: Well, he told me that this was the next to the last out. Roy Campanella hit it to Billy Martin, who threw it to Collins on first, and then he grabbed it from Collins, knowing, anticipating, that this was going to be a perfect game.
APPRAISER: So Ted, have you ever had these appraised, or have you ever had anyone offer you money for these?
GUEST: A collector did offer me $600 for them at one point. I said thank you, and he said, "Wait, did I say $600? I meant $800." And I quickly got off the phone from him.
APPRAISER: Let's go one by one. An umpire ball, even from the World Series, unless you're an umpire collector, and there aren't too many of those out there, probably about $200 to $250. The World Series ball belonging to the '56 Yanks, because it's not complete, probably somewhere in the vicinity of $1,000 to $1,500. And the condition on some of the signatures is faded. The Brooklyn Dodgers ball is beautiful, and that I would say has to be somewhere in the vicinity of $2,000 to $3,000 for those signatures. Now, this ball, Don Larsen is the only one to have ever thrown a perfect game in World Series history. There have only been two or three of these balls that have come up on auction. So judging by that, all the provenance, the great story that you've given us, this ball at auction, probably somewhere in the vicinity of $15,000 to $18,000.