Getty Image / MPI / Stringer
- On a recent episode of Antiques Roadshow, a man brought forth an immaculate baseball autograph collection
- The collection featured signatures of Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker, and more
- The appraiser, Grant Zahajko, valued the entire collection at a massive $25,000
Rare baseball memorabilia from the early 20th century is getting harder to find these days. That’s not to say you still can’t find a Honus Wagner card in your grand pappy’s attic, but the odds have significantly decreased.
These days you typically see memorabilia collections coming to auction that has been passed down through kin. Recently, an out-of-this-world collection of baseball autographs from 1928-1934 were valued on an episode of Antiques Roadshow.
Aside from the appraisal, the owner of the collection also tells a wild story of losing his father’s Babe Ruth foul ball while playing catch with it out in a field.
Story of Rare Baseball Autograph Collection
Originally airing on PBS, “Omni Mount Washington Resort, Hour 2” includes the valuation of a man’s autograph collection that was passed down to him from his father.
The man talks about how his father grew up outside of Boston during the 1920s and 1930s. During that time, his father would write to players saying he was amassing an autograph collection of the “world’s greatest players.”
What’s awesome is all the player’s the man’s father wrote to responded back, with the players neatly signing their names back on the letters. It turns out that of the 12 players the man’s father wrote to, 8 of them ended up making it to the Hall of Fame.
So who are the players? Well, there’s Tris Speaker, Cy Young, Modecai “Three-Finger” Brown, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth to name a several.
BASEBALL HISTORY, FEATURING 1933-1934
(l to r): Pittsburgh Pirates Pie Traynor, manager George Gibson, and coach Honus Wagner sitting on the dugout steps at Braves Field. #baseball @MLB #history
Copyright (c) Leslie Jones. All rights reserved. pic.twitter.com/KDSkXJCAm3
— Bygone Ballgames (@bygoneballgames) January 7, 2021
Another strategy the man’s father would use is heading to the hotel teams were staying at and flag down players in the lobby.
He was able to procure a 1930 Boston Braves partial team-signed ball with 9 signatures (one of them from Rabbit Maranville), as well as a Philadelphia A’s full team-signed ball with 19 signatures and estimated to be from the years of 1928-1930.
Then there’s the team-signed ball the appraiser deemed the “most important,” a 1933 full team-signed ball of the Washington Senators in “beautiful” condition. The team went on to the World Series that year, only to lose to the NY Giants.
Polo Grounds, Manhattan, NY, Oct 3, 1933 – More than 46,000 on hand for Game 1 of 1933 World Series with NY Giants taking on Washington Senators, behind the screwballs of southpaw Carl Hubbard (struck out 10) the Giants took opening game 4-2. Giants' Mel Ott: 4 for 4, HR, 3 RBIs pic.twitter.com/R5o0gGBQJK
— Old-Time Baseball Photos (@OTBaseballPhoto) August 13, 2020
Norfolk, VA, Oct 3, 1933 – Street scoreboard sponsored by The Virginian-Pilot newspaper showing Game 1 of 1933 World Series between the NY Giants and Washington Senators.
Photographer – Charles Borjes pic.twitter.com/TDf3CuMQhy
— Old-Time Baseball Photos (@OTBaseballPhoto) November 19, 2021
Estimated Value of Entire Collection
In the video the appraiser, Grant Zahajko, walks through the insured value on each piece. The insured value essentially means that is the market price of the memorabilia.
If it were to be lost or stolen, the original owner could then use that money and easily buy something similar from a dealer without having to bargain.
Zahajko put the entire collection to be valued at $25,000, which is pretty awesome.
Estimated Value Breakdown on Each Piece
Zahajko also provided a breakdown of the estimated value of each piece. Here is the entire list:
- Cy Young autograph: $1,000
- Honus Wagner autograph: $1,000
- Babe Ruth autograph: $8,000
- Autograph booklet album w/ Tris Speaker, Modecai Brown, and six others: $4,000
- 1933 Washinton Senators signed team ball: $6,000
- 1928-1930 Philadelphia A’s signed team ball: $4,000
- 1930 Boston Braves partial signed team ball: $1,000
Story of Lost Babe Ruth Baseball
One incredible story the man shared about his father was when Babe Ruth played for the Boston Braves in 1935, Ruth’s final season.
The man’s father attended one of the games that season day, and out in the stands Ruth sliced a foul ball. The man’s father caught the ball.
Babe Ruth, playing for the Boston Braves, against the New York Giants on April 16, 1935 at Braves Field in Boston Photo by Mark Rucker-Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images pic.twitter.com/Gmkwu1Njuq
— Baseball In Pics (@baseballinpix) December 2, 2021
Growing up, the foul ball was kept in a shoebox. The man and his brothers would play with whatever balls were around the house, and the Ruth foul ball ended up getting lost out in the field where they would play.
While it would essentially be impossible to get the ball verified to the point it could be sold in an auction, the story itself is a pretty dang good one.
That man should still go look for that Ruth ball though.