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    JFK launches Major League season seven months before his assassination

    1963 President John F. Kennedy Single Signed Opening Day First Pitch Baseball. When the ballpark cut its ribbon in October of 1961, it was known as "D.C. Stadium," but another national and family tragedy would assign it a different name, "Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium," in the months after the aspiring Democratic presidential candidate met his end in the same tragic manner as his brother, our thirty-fifth President. However, on the day this OAL (Cronin) baseball took flight, April 8, 1963, the American public was blissfully unaware of the horrors that lurked within our nation's most turbulent decade.

    Few traditions are as decidedly American as the Presidential first pitch, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy appears to revel in the pageantry as he ushered in the start of the 1963 Major League season with a battle between local rivals the Washington Senators and the Baltimore Orioles. We find nothing but smiles on the faces of Kennedy and his entourage as he lobbed this baseball toward a congregation of Senators on the field, who battled for the souvenir in much the same way as a desperate bridesmaid scrambles for the tossed bouquet.

    Back-up catcher Don Leppert was the lucky man to corral the looping heave, as a notarized letter of provenance from American League umpire Al Salerno reports. "I asked Don for the ball and he threw it to me while I was standing in the runway," Salerno writes. "A short time later, when the President was leaving the ball park, he most graciously signed the ball for me."

    That baseball is proudly presented here, one of just the tiniest handful of examples bearing the signature of our tragic Commander in Chief, and quite likely the very last he ever threw or autographed. The ball's stamping has faded from visibility over the passage of a half century, and top and bottom panel exhibit scuffing from some form of mounted display, but the side panel blue ink signature remains impressively bold and unmistakable.

    Joining the notarized letter of provenance is another from early hobby titan Charles Hamilton, who certifies the authenticity of the signature in 1996. The market for Presidential singles continues to soar as more collectors are drawn into this fascinating and challenging subgenre, and it should go without saying that Kennedy rates as the most elusive of post-war models. Included is a modern print of a photo of Kennedy throwing out this ball. Letter of provenance from American League umpire Al Salerno. LOA from Charles Hamilton. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2016
    27th-28th Saturday-Sunday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 13
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