Search By:
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/30/2023

“Only the second JFK signed ball that I believe is irrefutable.”–– John Reznikoff.

Single signed baseballs from U.S. Presidents have long been a desirable sub-category for autograph collectors. This recent discovery, however, is in a league all by itself. Signed by John F. Kennedy within the first year of his tragically shortened presidential term, this ball originated from an important historical trip in which President JFK used baseball as a diplomatic tool to garner understanding and harmony between the United States and Latin America. The event was Kennedy’s 1961 “Alliance for Progress” initiative which aimed to strengthen the economic ties between the United States and Latin America as well as work to eliminate illiteracy, introduce land reform, and establish democratic governments throughout the Western Hemisphere.

In December of 1961, John F. Kennedy, accompanied by First Lady Jacqueline and their two young children (Caroline and John Jr.), traveled to Venezuela and Colombia to negotiate the first initiatives of his Alliance for Progress plan, marking the first ever visit to either South American country by a sitting U.S. President. During JFK’s brief stay in the Venezuelan capital (Dec. 15-18), a local Caracas reporter from Venezuela’s top newspaper El Universal named Julio Messuti was tasked with covering every meeting between the POTUS and Venezuela President Rómulo Betancourt. For three days Messuti secretly carried a baseball with him, waiting for an optimal moment to ask for Kennedy’s autograph.

The time came on the last day of the visit when Messuti – after getting President Betancourt’s blessing – managed to talk his way past JFK’s Secret Service team and ask Kennedy for his signature on the ball. Kennedy happily obliged, recognizing the significance of a U.S. president signing a Venezuelan baseball and using it as an opportunity to emphasize how the game could unite both nations. Apparently, as he was signing this very ball, JFK commented that “Venezuela should be proud to have a player like Luis Aparicio [then-White Sox star shortstop and future Hall of Famer]”. The unique event was covered in El Universal with several photographs showing JFK with key Venezuelan dignitaries and capturing the exact moment of the signing.

The photo captions on the main page of El Universal's December 22, 1961 issue read: (translated from Spanish): “The President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, has sent a beautiful and humble gift as a salute to Venezuelan athletes who will achieve great success in the future. President Kennedy, a statesman and renowned athlete-who was a swimming champion in his younger years, autographed this baseball as a demonstration of his love for America’s Pastime. [He is seen here having a brief conversation with Dr. Falcon Briceño. Seen above and to the right, praising the play of Venezuelan big leaguer Luis Aparicio.]

The Spalding “Associacion Venezuela de Baseball Professional” ball has maintained a creamy white patina with some spot toning on the north panel, though nothing to detract from Kennedy’s lovely autograph in bold blue ink on the sweet spot which appears 7/10 in strength and 8/10 in eye appeal. This signed ball is an exact match to the one pictured on the front page of El Universal, the first photo-match of any POTUS signed baseball to our knowledge. Truly a one-of-a-kind artifact demonstrating how baseball was used to bridge the cultural gap between two distinct regions of the Americas engulfed in conflict during the Cold War. Considering its provenance and the serendipitous photo-match, not only is this the most significant JFK ball to surface, but it may be the greatest POTUS basebal, bar none!

The ball was recently certified by PSA/DNA’s leading authenticator, Kevin Keating and John Reznikoff, and it comes with a full LOA from the company. Considered the hobby's expert on vintage Americana/historical signatures, Reznikoff added that it is "only the second irrefutable JFK signed ball" in existence. Also included is a letter of provenance from Julio Messuti Jr. (who was 7 years old that time) as well as a certified copy of the December 22, 1961, section of Venezuela’s El Universal newspaper showing Kennedy signing the ball with a close-up of his autograph.

It should be noted that in 2020 a Franklin Delano Roosevelt ball became the first POTUS signed baseball to reach six figures at public auction. The highest-selling JFK signed ball to date went for $47,800 back in 2013 – an MLB first-pitch baseball as are all other JFK comps going as far back as we could research. JFK balls are scarcer than FDR balls in the hobby and this one presents in, by far, better condition than any FDR or JFK ball previously offered. The kicker is its well-documented historical significance, likely making it a new record-breaker for any presidential signed baseball.

Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $25,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $166,818
Number Bids:19
Email A Friend
Ask a Question
 I Have One To Sell