Century Old Signed Ball! Rarities abound as one examines this Deadball Era heirloom. Pouncing over the trademark stampings and (22) blue-ink steel tip fountain pen scriptings, the 1915 Detroit Tigers and one of the games’ most heated pennant races come to mind. As for scarcity, first and foremost, a team-signed sphere from this era is an anomaly. While autographs were becoming steadily more popular on their own, rarely were baseballs endorsed by groupings, let alone multiple players from the same team. But this OAL Ban Johnson orb meets that definition. Trademark stampings and alternating red-and-blue laces are decidedly vibrant. Signatures, meanwhile, vary in terms of strength with several keys warranting high assessment. At the age of 28, Ty Cobb secured his eighth batting title that year. Powered by the league’s No. 1, 2 and 3 RBI and total base leaders (Cobb, Sam Crawford and Robert Veach), the Tigers won a (then) franchise-best 100 games, laying claim to first place four different times before ultimately succumbing to the Red Sox. Twenty-two Tigers decorated this well-preserved orb with their endorsements. Included are: Sweet Spot Dauss (“5-6” strength) and McKee (“5-6”); North Panel Crawford (“6-7”), Burke (coach, “5”, d.1942), Stanage (“3-4”), Oldham (“2”), Young (“3-4”), James (“3”) and Bush (“4”); South Panel Moriarty, Tuthill (trainer, “3”), Vitt (“3”), Kavanagh (“2-3”) and Jennings (manager, “4-5”, d.1928); West Panel Baker (“3-4”), Burns (“4”), Veach (“3-4”, d.1945), Dubuc (“3”) and J. McGuire (Coach, d.1936); East Panel Cobb (“7”), H. Coveleski (“3-4”; with salutation and what appears to be a calendar date) and Boehler (d.1958). Full photo LOA from JSA. NOTE: The JSA LOA states there are 21 signatures, however we have identified 22 signatures on the ball. A personal letter of provenance accompanies. More on website
The transcript of our consignor's LOA is as follows:
This Detroit Tigers autographed baseball came to me from my grandfather, George Andrew Carlisle, Jr., the sole owner of this trophy item.
Growing up in Detroit in the early 1900's, young Andy worked assorted small jobs, one of which was cleaning & hauling out coal ashes from the coal furnaces in the houses around the neighborhood. One of his neighbors happened to be Harry Coveleski, a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers baseball team. As a gift of gratitude for this likable and hard-working young man, Mr. Coveleski gave him an American League ball, which had been signed by many active members of the team, including the legendary Ty Cobb. A total of 21 signatures have been identified, those of players, the manager, and the physical trainer. It is not known whether my grandfather was attending the game when the signings occurred.
Extensive research into the Detroit Tiger's history and team rosters have led our family, and experts as well, to determine that it was most likely the 1915 team. There is even a faint hint of a date written under Coveleski's signature. (6-28-15?). This would put my grandfather's age at about 11 years old. He then stored the ball in his house for years, until it was given to me sometime in the 1980's. A few years later, I placed the ball in a baseball cube, and have stored it out of harm's way in a bank safety deposit box.
This Ty Cobb autographed ball is truly a one-of-a-kind item from the early glory days of American baseball. It is my sincere wish that it will find its rightful place as a valuable and featured piece in someone's proud baseball collection.
Sincerely, and with best regards,
Steven Andrew Carlisle