Ruth, Mantle & Maris Signed Baseball

Value (2008) | $30,000 Auction$50,000 Insurance

GUEST:
Well, my 13th birthday, my great-uncle gave me this birthday present of a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

APPRAISER:
1961, you got it for your 13th birthday.

GUEST:
Right. 1961. And, uh, he gave it to me when he learned that my baseball team was going on a road trip up to Kansas City to watch the Yankees play the Kansas City Athletics.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
And so that inspired him to give it to me and I took it along with me. We got there and saw the game on August 27,

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
on a Sunday. And Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, neither one hit home runs that day that we saw in our game, but Yogi Berra did hit one home run.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
And Elston Howard hit two. And that's all I remember about that, but after, toward the end of the game, my coach of the team, our team, took the ball and disappeared and came back a little bit later at the end of the game and, uh, he had-- Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle had signed the ball.

APPRAISER:
Wow. So, here's the ticket you have to the game.

GUEST:
Right, the ticket stub.

APPRAISER:
And here's the baseball itself. Well, we've got Ruth, '31 right here. Here's Mantle and it shows Mickey Mantle, 1961 on there. And then we flip it around and there is Roger Maris. And did you know what was going on that summer?

GUEST:
Oh, yes. It was all the news. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in their home run duel to break, uh, Babe Ruth's record.

APPRAISER:
That's right and that's what I love about this baseball. Here you have-- and we'll flip it back here-- Babe Ruth who, of course, broke his own home run record in 1927, setting it 60 home runs in a single season. Broke his home run record of 1921 where he hit 59 home runs and you fast-forward to 1961 and you have the M&M boys. In all my years in sports-- and I've been a sports fan all my life and I've been looking at baseballs for many, many years-- I've never seen a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, let alone a ball signed by Ruth in the heyday of his career, 1931, and Mantle and Maris during the summer that they assaulted Ruth's home run record. Of course, we know how it all came out. Maris ended up hitting 61 in 161 games and Mantle, of course, went down with an injury late in the season and I believe only finished with 52 or 54. That's what gives it value. You've got these two eras of Yankee dominance and these two eras of the home run being set by Ruth and then the home run record being broken by Maris in '61. At auction, I'd put it up at about $30,000 to $50,000.

GUEST:
That much?

APPRAISER:
$30,000 to $50,000, yes.

GUEST:
I didn't anticipate that.

APPRAISER:
And I would put insurance value on it for at least $50,000.

You have two great eras here. You have two great stories here that have collided right in this baseball. Who knew what you were going to get for your 13th birthday?

GUEST:
I didn't, I didn't ever dream of this.

APPRAISER:
What'd you get for your 14th birthday? (laughing) (laughing)

GUEST:
I don't know. I don't remember that.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Leila Dunbar Appraisals & Consulting, LLC
Washington, District of Columbia
Appraised value (2008)
$30,000 Auction$50,000 Insurance
Event
Dallas, TX (June 28, 2008)
Period
20th Century
Material
Leather
March 02, 2009: In this segment, appraiser Leila Dunbar discusses a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, and Mickey Mantle. When noting the date for Ruth’s signature, Leila refers to the inscribed “1931” as the “heyday of his career.” After the segment aired, a viewer wrote in to inform us that the Ruth signature could not have been done in 1931 because Major League baseballs before 1934 had alternate red and blue stitching and the baseball in this appraisal had all red stitching. After Dunbar contacted the Baseball Hall of Fame, we confirmed that indeed the red stitching does date this ball to post-1934. Despite the later date of the Babe Ruth signature, Dunbar's $30,000 to $50,000 appraised value remains unchanged because this is still the only known baseball signed by all three of these baseball legends.

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