Three 1940s Signed Baseballs

Value (2006) | $34,000 Auction$46,000

GUEST:
Our father passed away two years ago, and he left us these baseballs. We obviously know this one and this one, but we need a little bit more help on that one.

APPRAISER:
Okay, did you ever have these appraised?

GUEST:
Only by the estate.

APPRAISER:
And how much did they appraise them for?

GUEST:
Uh, the Babe was appraised at $8,000.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
The '41 Red Sox at $4,000.

APPRAISER:
Okay. And this one, never.

GUEST:
We have no idea.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, I don't think that the person who did the estate tax appraisal was... did their homework completely. But we're going to start with this one.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
When we do baseballs, especially team-signed baseballs, we have to look them up. So the first step is seeing who all these players are. Now, some are easy-- Stan "The Man" Musial is on there, very simple; Hall of Famer, great player. But we had to look up some of the players that you wouldn't remember, like a George Fallon or a Danny Litwhiler. Well, those guys were on the '44 team of the St. Louis Cardinals that beat the St. Louis Browns.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
With those additions on there, we can date that back to '44. And when you look at the condition of the signatures, we add all of that together. They become as important or more important than Stan, which makes this baseball with an auction estimate $2,000 to $3,000. Okay?

GUEST:
Wow, okay.

APPRAISER:
Now let's go on to the Red Sox ball. This is where I think your appraiser started to get into trouble.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
This is not a '41 Red Sox baseball. This is actually a Ted Williams rookie baseball from 1939, with Jimmie Foxx. A lot of people remember Jimmie Foxx, and in '39, he and Ted teamed up to hit 250 RBIs together. Ted knocked in 145 in his rookie season and Jimmy 105. Being a '39 ball... the appraisal was what, $4,000? It's still not worth that much, because the appraiser missed that there's no Lefty Grove on there, who's an important key signature, a Hall of Fame pitcher who ended his career with the Red Sox. So this one, I have to tell you, is going to be about $2,000 to $3,000.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
But I got to tell you. He was off on this, he was way off on Babe Ruth. Okay, completely off. Now, when I first looked at this Ruth ball, I looked at the B and the E, because normally it's a little loopier straight up on the B and it's a little more accentuated E. So I wasn't quite sure. But then a couple of the other appraisers and I looked at this, because what's very important-- particularly in Babe Ruth baseballs, but all signatures-- is authentication.

GUEST:
Certainly.

APPRAISER:
And every ballplayer has a certain characteristic, an idiosyncratic, individual, unique way of writing. And there are always telltale signs that the forgers can't quite duplicate. On this ball, believe it or not, it's how he crosses his T. Because the way Babe Ruth signs when he crosses his T, he does it like this and he puts a dot right at the end. And you can see the dot at the end.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
It's so difficult for a forger to duplicate that. So we're looking at that, you've got an authentic Ruth signature. He's the most collected of all. And now we're looking at the quality of the baseball, and this was what, $8,000?

GUEST:
That's what the estate valued it at.

APPRAISER:
And how many years ago was this?

GUEST:
Hmm, summer of '04, I guess.

APPRAISER:
Summer of '04. That's two years ago. I have to tell you, Rusty, I would put this in at $30,000 to $40,000.

GUEST:
Whoa. Cool. Wow. Thanks, Dad. (chuckles)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Leila Dunbar Appraisals & Consulting, LLC
Washington, District of Columbia
Appraised value (2006)
$34,000 Auction$46,000
Event
Philadelphia, PA (August 05, 2006)
Period
1940s
Material
Leather

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