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    The hobby's most significant autographed Dead Ball Era sphere?

    1917 Tim Murnane Benefit Game Signed Baseball with "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb. A famous panoramic photograph is responsible for the hobby's awareness of an event widely cited as the first (unofficial) All-Star Game in Major League history, a 1911 exhibition between the Cleveland Indians and the biggest stars of the American League to benefit the widow of Hall of Fame pitcher Addie Joss, who died suddenly at the age of thirty-one due to tubercular meningitis. Far fewer are aware of another assembly of the game's greats, once again brought together by tragedy and altruism.

    Tim Murnane had gotten his start in professional baseball as a member of the 1872 Middletown (CT) Mansfields before six seasons of service to the Major Leagues with the Philadelphia Athletics, the Philadelphia White Stockings, the Boston Red Caps and the Providence Grays. In 1884, he joined with Hall of Fame baseball pioneer George Wright in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to challenge the dominance of the National League with the Boston Reds of the Union Association before transitioning to a thirty-year career as a sportswriter and baseball editor for The Boston Globe. Murnane was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978 with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

    When Murnane suffered a fatal heart attack while attending an opera performance at Schubert Theater in Boston in February of 1917, it was learned that he had left only meager savings from his long baseball career to support his widow and four children from his second marriage. A memorial fund was established, with the support of the American League and the Baseball Writers Association of America, and Murnane's good friend and former Red Sox team owner John I. Taylor began to orchestrate plans for a benefit game pitting his old club against a selection of Major League greats.

    It was late in the 1917 season that the plans came to fruition, on September 27th at Fenway Park. With all teams enjoying an off-day, and both pennant races over, all American League teams but the St. Louis Browns sent players to Boston. Though several National Leaguers were scheduled to attend, ultimately only Braves legend Rabbit Maranville made an appearance. Babe Ruth, Boston's top ace, took the mound for the home team as his future Yankees teammate Urban Shocker helmed the All-Star side.

    A crowd of over 17,000 watched as Ruth blanked the All-Stars by a margin of two to nothing, striking out Ty Cobb in the process. In the crowd was our consignor's grandfather, a hobo who criss-crossed the country hopping trains, and arrived in Boston by pure chance to attend one of the most star-studded events of the Dead Ball Era. In a pre-game "field day," Ruth won a fungo hitting contest and Joe Jackson, who traveled to Boston with fellow future Black Sox conspirators Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte, claimed victory in a throwing contest with a distance of 396 feet.

    All of these early legends appear on the provided autographed sphere, a baseball that is believed to be one of only two known examples from that special summit of Dead Ball greats. Twenty autographs appear in total on the OAL (Johnson) orb, notably:

    Joe Jackson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Frank Baker, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Walter Johnson, George Sisler, Buck Weaver, Eddie Cicotte, Dutch Leonard, Steve O'Neill.

    All listed names are readily legible, while others will only be apparent with the assistance of spectrometry. Certainly any condition shortcomings must be forgiven in light of the tremendous rarity and importance. A thrilling find for the advanced baseball autograph collector. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.

    More information about Ty Cobb.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2016
    20th-21st Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,247

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

    Sold on Feb 20, 2016 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
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