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    The Only Known Vic Willis Single Signed Baseball. One of the greatest collecting rarities ever presented by Heritage Auction Galleries makes its hobby debut here, only the fourth auction appearance (according to our comprehensive database) of the extraordinarily rare Vic Willis autograph in any format in the past dozen years, and the first on the hide of a baseball. The definitive hobby price guide, Sports Market Report, understandably lists the Vic Willis Single Signed Baseball as "Unknown." With this offering, history is rewritten.

    Almost forgotten by modern baseball fans in the eighty-five years since his 1910 retirement from the sport, Willis suddenly burst back into the public consciousness with his posthumous 1995 induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame on a Veteran's Committee ballot. It was an honor long overdue. Willis' career 2.628 ERA left him just one-thousandth of a point behind fellow inductees Cy Young and Tim Keefe, and ahead of such legends as Iron Joe McGinnity, Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn and Jack Chesbro. Dividing his thirteen professional seasons mainly between the Boston Beaneaters and the Pittsburgh Pirates (with a final season as a St. Louis Cardinal), Willis reached the glorious peak of his career during his penultimate campaign, pitching the first game at the newly constructed Forbes Field en route to the Pirates' first World Championship in 1909.

    After Willis' retirement at age thirty-four, he returned to his hometown of Newark, Delaware, where he owned and operated a hotel and, according to the Society of American Baseball Research website, managed semi-pro ball for a time. One must assume that it was during this period that this monumentally scarce autograph was acquired. The blue fountain pen ink signature is ideally situated on the sweet spot of a "Reach Lively League" ball, which would appear to date the piece to the 1920's or 1930's. Today the three letters of Willis' given name survive at a fully legible strength of 3/10, while his surname doubles the score to 6/10. A careful examination of the evenly toned horsehide finds no other writing or unsightly blemishes.

    Along with such hobby rarities as Ed Delahanty, Addie Joss and Rube Waddell, Vic Willis has reasonably been considered a twentieth century Major League Hall of Fame autograph even the most advanced collectors must resign themselves to live without. Nobody had even dared to dream of a single signed baseball-on the sweet spot, no less!-until now. Even more remarkable than the Mordecai Brown single which commanded over $65,000 in our August "Platinum Night" Signature Auction, this once-in-a-lifetime ball will open with at $5,000 and sell with no reserve. Make no mistake--it's now or never. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,887

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold on Nov 5, 2010 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
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