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"Maybe I'm not a great man but I damn well want to break the record."1961 Roger Maris Single Signed Baseball Autographed the Day He Broke Home Run Record. When we think of endurance feats in baseball, the mind automatically travels to the streaks of Gehrig and Ripken, or even Joltin' Joe's fifty-six games of unfailing production in 1941. But we'd argue that the grit and determination shown by this humble slugger from North Dakota during the fabled 1961 season deserves similar recognition. Where the aforementioned legends enjoyed the support of friends (and even some foes) during their paths to the record, Maris was treated as an interloper, a pretender to the crown, even in his home ballpark. In the race between Mantle and Maris, the fan support was a landslide for the former, a fact that makes the victor's accomplishment all the more impressive.
Maris' passing in 1985, just before the memorabilia boom that would flood the market with autographs from Mantle, DiMaggio and Williams, has ensured that supply will always lag far behind demand for Rajah's signature. But here we find perhaps the most significant entry from that thin supply, an OAL (Cronin) baseball slapped into the stands by a rookie Hall of Famer at Yankee Stadium on October 1, 1961, and later that day autographed by the man who claimed his immortality during that final contest of the season.
Maris' sweet spot signature alone is enough to turn the head of even the most jaded collector, an application that survives with 9/10 boldness. But the period fan's notation supplies the delectable context, transcribed as follows:
"Carl Yastrzemski hit this ball in practise (sic), Roger Maris 61st blast beat the Red Sox 1-0 Oct. 1st 1961, Rajah's blast was the Yankees 240 home run , Roger Maris rapped his 61st bomb in this game."
The experts confirm that the notations are indeed period, and the ball is likewise correct for the 1961 season, as is the construction of Maris' signature. It's a rare thing that a Yankees fan gets to celebrate an underdog, but here we find that most unlikely and desirable of combinations. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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2017 June 29 Premium Sportscard Catalog Auction - Dallas