"Might be 3,500 now. Oh, don't quote me. I didn't say that..."1959 Ted Williams 2,500th Career Hit Baseball Given to Johnny Orlando. Three years of World War II military service during an era when The Kid was averaging over 180 hits per season, and the bulk of two other campaigns lost for a second tour in Korea, denied the game's greatest hitter certain membership in the 3,000 Hit Club. As such, we find here the most significant milestone ball related to the iconic slugger's career hit total, an Official American League (Harridge) ball laced a first inning double off Kansas City Athletics right-hander Ray Herbert in a five to three road loss on June 2nd, 1959. The umpires held up the game as the ball that recorded his 2,500th hit was retrieved and delivered to Williams, who then sent it into the visiting dugout for safe-keeping. In interviews after the game, the forty-year old superstar noted that the milestone might have been much larger had Uncle Sam not twice come calling, but he quickly caught himself, embarrassed that someone might think he hadn't gladly made the sacrifice.
In his characteristic unsentimental style, Williams quickly concluded that he had no need for a trophy of his accomplishment, and made a gift of the historic sphere to famed Red Sox clubhouse man Johnny Orlando. Our consignor was gifted the ball by her great aunt Thelma "Billie" Clark Orlando, Johnny's widow. It makes its hobby debut within this Platinum Night Auction, with the consignor's letter of provenance.
The cream-colored sphere exhibits light game use from its historic ride courtesy of Teddy Ballgame's Louisville Slugger, and is notated "2500th hit, June 2, 1959" and autographed by the man himself in the boldest of blue ink. A single swipe of a pen on the panel to the north was likely placed as an identification mark in the dugout immediately after the hit was recorded, in order to assure that the proper ball made it back to the Hall of Fame outfielder.
Our auction results database would indicate that only a scattered few Williams home run baseballs have surfaced in the collecting hobby, and certainly no game used spheres which could rival the presented specimen for historic import. To this date, fewer than one hundred Major Leaguers have summitted this vaunted plateau, and the key relic of the achievement from the game's greatest hitter could properly be characterized as an American treasure. Letter of provenance from consignor. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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