Winter Premier Auction 2021

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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/3/2021

With apologies to Lou Gehrig, three bigger names in New York Yankees lore other than Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle would be hard to find. Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat,” set the all-time home run record with 714 career round-trippers, which stood until 1974 when Hank Aaron broke it. DiMaggio, known as “The Yankee Clipper,” was the Bronx Bombers’ rudder for more than a decade and still owns MLB’s 56-game hitting streak, a mark he set in 1941. And Mantle, affectionately known as “The Mick,” launched 536 home runs during his 18-year career and helped the Yankees win seven World Series.

This lot features an extremely rare baseball signed by all three Yankee greats. The ONL (Frick) Spalding baseball is adorned with none other than Babe Ruth’s signature across the sweet spot in black ink. DiMaggio’s scrawl is found in perfect blue ink across the south panel, while Mantle’s autograph occupies the north panel, also in blue ink. The three signatures are incredibly well preserved and collectively would rate 7-8/10 in our book! The probability of finding these three signatures on one minimally toned baseball is slim to begin with so this is one piece of autographed memorabilia that doesn’t surface very often.

The story behind its provenance and preservation is even more incredible:
“My name is Douglas Bonaro and this is the story of how my father, Mario Bonaro, acquired the baseball. In 1943, at age 13, my father attended a live airing of the NBC radio show “Baseball Quiz,” which was broadcast from the RCA Building in New York City and where Babe Ruth served as its host from June 5 to July 10, 1943. On this day, Ruth answered baseball questions asked by the children in the audience and afterwards my father and a few other children were invited to meet Ruth which included a baseball signing. My father watched Ruth sign the ball and then hand it to him along with a hand shake.

My father brought the ball home and amazingly never played with it. He tucked it away in his sock drawer where it remained until 1952, at which time he wrapped the ball in a towel and placed it in a box before leaving for the Korean War. He was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served as a machine-gunner. My father returned safely from the war and married my mother in 1955. The ball remained in the box until 1968, when my father brought it, along with my brother, James, to the Yankees 22nd Old Timer’s Day game when they hosted the Minnesota Twins on August 10th. Joe DiMaggio was in attendance for the Old Timer’s Day event and this marked Mantle’s last year with the Yankees. It also just happened to be Mantle’s 46th and last time he ever hit two home runs in a single game [530 and 531].

My father specifically brought the ball to obtain the signatures of DiMaggio and Mantle. As my father and brother sat down, my father caught a glimpse of E. Michael Burke, the general manager of the Yankees and a candidate to become the next Baseball Commissioner. My father finagled his way up to Burke and asked him if he could get DiMaggio and Mantle to sign the ball. Burke was gracious and stated that there was “too much going on at the time” but offered to get the two signatures and mail the ball back. My father wrote his address and phone number on a piece of paper and handed it to Burke along with the signed Ruth ball. My father wondered if he would ever see the ball again as he walked back to his seat.

About 10 days later he received a call from Burke’s secretary who said Mr. Burke felt the ball was too valuable to mail so they invited my father and brother back to Yankee Stadium on August 24, 1968, where they could pick up the ball and get two complimentary tickets for that day’s game versus the Detroit Tigers. My Dad retrieved the signed ball and enjoyed the game. When he returned home, he gave it to my mother who wrapped it in cellophane and for the next 18 years the ball sat on top of my father’s dresser in their bedroom. My father retired in 1986 and my parents moved to South Carolina at which time they placed the ball in a safety deposit box where it has remained for the past 30 years. My father is over 85 now and he and my mother have been married for 66 years. After holding onto the ball for 75+  years he now feels it’s best to sell it to someone who can proudly share its history and display it.”

Full LOA from PSA/DNA.

Estimate: $50,000

Bidding
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $10,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $60,667
Number Bids: 12
Auction closed on Saturday, April 3, 2021.
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