Description1859 Brooklyn Atlantics Game Used Trophy Baseball, As Seen on Antiques Roadshow. Elusive and monumentally important from an historical perspective, the presented ancient sphere saw over a century and a half pass between its two appearances upon center stage. A link to the footage which provides its second is available on our website listing for this lot, the two-minute segment on the popular PBS program Antiques Roadshow, which provides some background on the piece.
This footage discusses the ball's first moment of fame, which came in a meeting between the Brooklyn Atlantics and the Baltimore Pastime base ball clubs on June 23, 1859. While the latter team is largely forgotten by history today, the former should be familiar to any true baseball historian, as it was the first Champion of organized baseball, and a founding member of the National Association of Base Ball Players in 1857, the very first organized sports league of any type. This is the game ball from one of the club's eleven victories that season, a record which earned the title of Champion for the Brooklyn squad without participation in any Championship match or series. Given this fact, the offered relic could only be equalled, not surpassed, by another trophy ball from this season in terms of its historical significance.
The ball is constructed in the "lemon peel" style, the standard of the day, and is approximately the same size as a modern ball but lighter and "deader" in the hands, without the tightly wound solidity of twentieth and twenty-first century models. Soon after the contest, the ball was painted white and then decorated with the details of the contest, which read as follows:
June 23rd - 59, Atlantic 29, Pastimes 15.
The score of the game is confirmed by Charles A. Peverelly's Book of American Pastimes, Containing a History of the Principal Base Ball, Cricket, Rowing and Yachting Clubs of the United States, published in 1866.
As the story was recounted to the Antiques Roadshow appraiser, the ball was gifted decades ago to a Brooklyn baseball fan by the groundskeeper at Ebbets Field. While it's true that the Atlantics were long dead by the time Charles Ebbets built his namesake ballpark, it is well established that the park housed a small museum, which likely explains the ball's proximity to the Dodgers' home park. Perhaps we must count this time in the presence of legends from Zack Wheat to Jackie Robinson as the ball's third moment in the sun, with its presentation in our April Signature auction as the fourth (and perhaps final). Bid accordingly.
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