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Vintage Signed Baseballs

Updated on March 12, 2012

Sir, Please Sign My Sphere?

Autographed baseballs are a piece of Americana. No other type of sports memorabilia has as much history behind it as the ball signed by a player or team.

From the famous to the infamous, vintage signed baseballs can be very valuable, especially when well preserved. New finds and long-forgotten treasures are coming into the sports memorabilia hobby every day. But is your autographed baseball authentic and how much is it worth?

We'll help answer those questions or give you the resources to do so.

Single Signed Baseballs

The single signed baseball is just that--a ball signed by one subject--preferably on the 'sweet spot', the narrow area between the seams on every baseball.

Fans collect autographed baseballs in a variety of ways. Some prefer Hall of Famers, others go after themes or milestones like 300-game winners, 500-home run club members, MVPs, batting champions, pitchers who've thrown no-hitters, etc.

Vintage signed baseballs with Hall of Fame signatures are considered rare sports memorabilia, because not that many exist. A ball signed by pitcher Christy Mathewson, who played in the early 20th century, sold at auction in 2007 for over $161,000!. Another sold for $91,000 just a few months later.

Babe Ruth signed a ton of autographs in his day and a lot of Ruth balls exist, but the demand still outweighs the supply by a ton! When the rare Ruth ball that has little wear on it comes to market, a feeding frenzy ensues among well-heeled collectors. A single-signed Ruth ball in near perfect condition sold in 2005 for $150,000.

Thanks to the rise of baseball card shows with autograph guests, you can still find famous baseball players signing in public (as long as you're willing to pay the going price) on a fairly regular basis. If you can get past the 'pay for an autograph' stigma, it's a good way to get an authentic sports autograph. Expect to pay $50-200 for most living Hall of Famers who attend card shows.

Single signed baseballs are really the most preferred way of collecting autographs for the baseball fan and if you have a chance to see a large collection, it really can be quite impressive.

Collecting Team Signed Baseballs

Baseballs do lend themselves to a very tidy display of members of a certain team and team signed balls are very popular, especially when they represent certain great teams of the past.

Balls from the 1920s-1940s can sell for tens of thousands of dollars in nice shape if they include a vast majority of team members including authentic signatures of the stars or Hall of Famers on that team. A 1921 New York Giants team signed baseball sold for $15,535 in a recent auction by Heritage Galleries.

New York Yankees memorabilia is always popular and Yankee team signed balls from the club's many world championship teams can be exceptionally valuable. A 1932 Yankees team-signed ball brought $14,340 recently and included the autographs of Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Beware, though! It was common practice for many years for clubhouse attendants to pass those balls around and forge the players names on them, especially the stars who didn't relish the hundreds of requests sent their way each week.

It's best to seek out a qualified, respected autograph authenticator before pulling the trigger on a buy or sale. Search Google, do research and read, read, read before spending a lot of money in an auction or even in a large store that might seem to carry unquestionably 'good' autographs.

Most old autographed baseballs have flaws thanks to the ravages of time and the fact that some of them were actually played with. Remember, sports memorabilia wasn't considered anything of real monetary value until the last 35 or 40 years. Of course, that affects the value as well. Team signed baseballs are one of the most interesting areas of the sports memorabilia hobby and don't take up much room either!

Beware the Clubhouse Signature

Not all autographed baseballs are pure as snow

Unfortunately you have to be aware that many well-known players have used "ghost signers" over the years.

A clubhouse attendant, bat boy or another player would sign for the beseiged player, duplicating his signature as close to the real thing as possible so as not to arouse suspicion.

A number of players, including Babe Ruth, have used ghost signers. For many players who received autograph requests at home, a wife or other family member would sign, especially late in the player's life.

How can you tell if it's real? Do LOTS of homework online, or submit it to an authenticator for a 'quick opinion'. A good authenticator has seen enough clubhouse or ghost signatures that they will know quickly whether it's real or not. It'll cost you a few dollars, but it's vital if you ever decide to sell your vintage autographed baseball.

New Baseball Autographs Website Launches

Authentic signed sports collectibles site offers knowledge and shopping.

A new website focused on baseball and other sports autographs has launched, offering novice and veteran collectors the opportunity learn about autograph authenticity and shop for signed sports memorabilia.

Diamond Autographs features several informative articles including Guides to What Makes Sports Autographs Original, Types of Signed Collectables, Sports Autograph Collecting Themes and even why collecting sports memorabilia is, contrary to some recent news stories, growing by leaps and bounds despite recent economic challenges. Sports fans have always sought a tangible connection to their favorite teams, players and moments through sports memorabilia. Statistics indicate the number of sports fans tuning in to watch games has never been higher.

In addition to some collecting tips, visitors to Diamond Autographs have the opportunity to purchase authentic signed collectables from eBay and Amazon.com without having to navigate through thousands of other listings. Shop through the store or bid on signed items authenticated like signed balls from PSA/DNA, 8x10 autographs from James Spence Authentication, autographed baseballs from Steiner Sports and Mounted Memories and much more.

You can even shop through a list sorted by authenticator.

Authentic sports memorabilia continues to grow in popularity, with beautiful pieces multiplying each year and companies and collectors become more and more creative. Advances in photography, authentication and even the markers and pens used to sign items have made many items virtual works of one-of-a-kind sports art.

While sports card shows often charge significant amounts of money for mid-level stars to sign items-and premiums for larger items like bats-shopping online remains the best way to buy sports memorabilia.

There is enough competition in the market to keep prices at a reasonable level and there is, literally, something for every budget thanks to eBay's fair market auctions that take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Diamond Autographs provides the links that make it easy to spot those bargains and add them to your collection or purchase that special holiday gift.

Autographed Baseballs for Sale

Shop for modern stars and vintage signed baseballs via Amazon.com. Click one of the links below and once into the site, you can search for anything!

Didn't know Amazon sold autographed balls, did you? Fact is, the top sellers know it's a way to reach thousands of customers and put their inventory online here.

Sports Autographs for Sale - Get a little peace of mind by purchasing professionally authenticated sports autographs

Shop for authentic sports autographs. Signed collectibles given a stamp of approval through the top authentication companies are your best bet!

Babe Ruth Autographed Ball in a Desk Drawer

You never know where those baseballs will turn up either:

From Louisa Peartree in the Baltimore Messenger:

You know how somewhere in your home there is an old desk or dresser that isn't used much? Maybe it was the desk used by a child who has long since grown up. Maybe it is an inherited piece you can't part with (or if you do, your mother will kill you), but you keep it in an out-of-the-way place. Perhaps old pictures, sweaters or outdated documents fill its drawers.

Patricia Laidlow, a neighbor on Wingate Road in Keswick, MD, has just such a desk, one that's been in her family for years. In her case the desk was used by her daughter through high school. It was emptied out when her daughter left for college some 20 years ago.

Since then, it has been a resting place for an odd document or, as Pat admitted, pieces of broken china. One day recently, as she was looking through the desk, she discovered a baseball wrapped in tissue. Upon inspection, the ball had several signatures scribbled on it.

Shortly after Pat's discovery, she noticed that Seth Gray was playing catch outside. Seth is a knowledgeable young man who likes baseball. Pat shared the ball with Seth, who quickly advised her not to touch the leather, only the stitches.

After a quick inspection (and after picking his jaw off the ground) he told her one signature was that of none other than the Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth.

Pat has since had the signatures authenticated by a baseball memorabilia dealer. There are six in all -- all players from the 1931 Yankees. Pat said, "I have no idea where the ball came from; neither I nor anyone in my family remembers ever seeing it before."

She thinks perhaps it came from her maternal grandfather, a barber in Schenectady, N.Y., and a big sports fan.

Autograph Authenticators

Whether you have a signed vintage sports memorabilia, an autographed photo or a signed bat sitting in your office, these grading and authentication companies have years of experience and piles of exemplars to help them determine the authenticity of an item or give it their stamp of approval so you'll have an easier time selling. They're not foolproof, but using reputable autograph authenticators is better than the alternative. Generally, you'll feel better about buying or selling.

There are fees associated with the service, but if you have a potentially valuable piece, it's wise to have an opinion rendered before attempting to sell.

Bear in mind, there are other individuals who are well qualified to render opinions on whether a signature is genuine. The best piece of advice we can provide is to do your homework when it comes to the subject of authentication.

Autograph authentication fees ees generally range from $20 to $150, depending on the player, the era and what's being authenticated. Team signed baseballs usually fall at the top end based on the number of signatures which must be authenticated. A simple authentication for a single-signed ball can generally be done for much less. The price also depends on whether you want a simple certificate or a full letter of opinion. A full letter is probably not warranted unless you have a very valuable piece or one with a signature that is commonly forged.

If you don't want to ship your items, the major autograph authenticators usually set up booths at major sports card and collectible shows throughout the year. Contacting them for a schedule would be the way to go. Chances are they'll be within a couple hours drive of where you live at some point.

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So What's My Autographed Baseball Really Worth?

You'll be at least a little less than clueless after reading this

You dug it out of storage. Took it off the mantle. And you want to know. What's this old autographed baseball worth anyway?

Like anything else, it's not cut and dried. Not most of the time anyway.

The value of an autographed baseball depends on a few factors.

1) Who signed it

2) Is it a team-signed ball, a multi-signed ball or a single-signed ball?

3) Are the autographs REALLY genuine?

4) What condition is it in?

5) If it's a team ball, is it from a club that won a pennant or World Series?

Ideally, your signed ball contains genuine Hall of Famer autographs or is a complete team signed ball and has been well preserved.

The first step is knowing what you have. Is it a 1955 Milwaukee Braves ball? Make a note of the signatures and match them to a team roster at sites like Baseball Reference. You can narrow down your ball to a couple of specific years by doing this.

Single-signed balls autographed on the 'sweet spot' are best. The sweet spot is the narrow area between the stitches. It's where the manager or most prominent player often signs--and that's sort of an accepted rule among teams, although never an absolute.

If your ball is smudged, that's a bad sign. If your ball is REALLY old, wear is normal and expected, but the autographs should still be somewhat readable. If your ball is incredibly pristine--stored in a dark, safe environment and never really handled, autograph grading might be a good idea. Authenticators do this as an extra service.

Fake signatures on baseballs are somewhat common, unfortunately. It was once common practice in clubhouses that well known players often had clubhouse attendants or batboys sign for them because they were so overloaded with demand. It's maddening to find a real team signed ball that has 23 authentic signatures and yet the biggest star like Mickey Mantle is actually a "clubhouse signature".

Sending your team signed ball to an authenticator is really the only way to get any peace of mind on the authenticity of the ball. Just because your uncle knew someone on the '61 Yankees or had a friend in the front office isn't enough.

Follow those steps and do a little research and you'll know what your autographed baseball is really worth.

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Have a story about an autographed baseball? An opinion on the topic or this lens? Let it out!

Have an autograph story to tell? - Let us know about that ball you found in grandpa's attic

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    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      3 years ago

      I have a ball that has several signatures on it and was wondering how to find out if it is a fake or the real thing. Can someone Please tell me what I need to do to find out?

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: No doubt. But you'll want to have it authenticated by PSA/DNA.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I have a baseballsigned by jackey robinson pee wee reese and the entire dodgers team l have been told for tweny years it is valuable. Is it.

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: Sorry to take so long to respond. It would need to be authenticated but I would check with an auction house on that one.

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: It would be worth a little more if it were an official American League ball, and it's hard to estimate without noting the condition but assuming it's in nice shape with no smearing, I would estimate it at around $900. Here's a very nice official AOL ball that sold at auction: https://catalog.scpauctions.com/LotDetail.aspx?lot...

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I have a ball that i obtained at yankee stadium in 1967 @ ball day.On the same day i purchased a plastic holder for the ball.. Since then I have gone to two shows and have obtained Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio signiture on them and was wondering what the ball was worth.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I inherited my great grandfather's 1930 signed NY Giants baseball, signed by 13 players including three Hall of Famers: Ott, Hubbell, and Terry. Could you please tell me how much is it worth?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      i have a baseball with 3 hall of famers signatures on it. Lou Brock, Eral Weaver and Brooks Robinson, its from St. petersburg fla. springtraining 1970

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: A 1979 Orioles autographed baseball is worth around $200. A '79 Pirates ball around $275-300.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      1979 World Series, can I get the 411 on that

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      If you wanted to buy a 1979 world series entire roster coaches, bat boy, get it seventh game against the Pirates, sweet morsel. How much insurance is too much and what is the value

    • dave22 lm profile image

      Rainbows and Unicorns Entertainment 

      6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @anonymous: Whenever I look at my collection I am reminded of what my father-in-law told me. They are only as valuable as what someone is willing to give you.

    • JK Sterling profile image

      Jim Sterling 

      6 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      I have Rod Carew and a Dave Stewart signed baseballs. Thanks for this lens

    • dave22 lm profile image

      Rainbows and Unicorns Entertainment 

      6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I started collecting nearly twenty years ago and it just took on a life of its own as I found more and more items. I love the feeling of just holding a baseball and feel like you are holding history, knowing at some point Ted Williams or Roger Maris held this ball. My most treasured possession is a ball signed by the last four triple crown winners.

    • baseballbrains lm profile image

      baseballbrains lm 

      6 years ago

      Well I don't have any balls to tell you about just yet, although we've caught a few at games. I love your lens and I'm happy to now be with you on twitter! Keep up the good work, it's very good stuff.

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: Yes, the Yankees did have stamped signed baseballs back then. Of course, they're not worth anywhere near the type of money of a real one, but it's hard to know without seeing it. You might try sending a photo to a sports memorabilia auction company.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I have a baseball that my father gave me years ago. He played for the Arkansas Travelers and went to the all-star game in 1962 and got a baseball with the Yankees teams players on it and it's in the original baseball diamond holder. Some of the names look as if they were stamped on though, did they do many balls like that in 1962? Do you have any idea what my ball is worth? Mantle, Tresh, Maris, Kubek to name a few are on it.

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: The value depends greatly on condition and whether it's an official ball from the NL or AL. If it's truly a Rickey signed ball and his is the only auto on the ball, it could be worth up to $1,000. Were you looking to liquidate it?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I have a baseball signed by Branch Rickey my father in law gave me 30 years ago that he found in his mother in laws fruit cellar. if authentic how much do you think it could be worth.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      I found a ball at Goodwill, It was signed by Brooks Robinson and Stan Musial in 1966 in Vietnam. I paid 99 cents.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      I have a vintage, National League practice ball signed by Charlie Gehringer and authenticated recently by James Spence. Gehringer inscribed the ball "To Bob Burke" (also authenticated by James Spence). I assume that's a relative on my father's side.

      The year 1935 is written on the ball, and I have no reason to believe that it was not autographed in that year. At that time, my father's family lived in Buffalo, NY, but I have no idea where the ball was signed. It's not in great shape; Gehringer's signature is on the faint side. The Detroit Tigers won the World Series in 1935.

      Does anyone have any idea what this ball might be worth?

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I have a baseball from 1947 signed by the Hartford (CT) Chiefs team. Can you tell me if this has any monetary value? Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Not sure if my lat post worked..? Ball is in a case and mint, where do I get authenticated, how much does that cost usually? I'll pay it, if the increase in value is more than the cost. I'm not a collector, it's a hand me down, so sorry for all the noob questions. Thx!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks.. How/where do I go for a certificate of authenticity? Will it not pay for itself in value increase? Sorry for the questions. The ball was a hand me down, I'm not really a collector, so I'm selling it. It is in a case and perfect shape. Thx-

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: About $100-200, depending on the actual grade but most buyers will want a certificate of authenticity which will add to your cost assuming it's not authenticated.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Hey nice website. I have a sandy koufax single signed ball in mint shape. Any Idea what its worth? I search and find prices all over the map, $100-$1300! I have no idea when it was signed. I am in San Francisco, any resources out here. I would like to sell it. Thanks! -BH

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I have a ball signed by Maris,Mantle and DiMaggio from 78 World series Does anyone have and idea what's it worth????

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I have a ball signed by Maris,Mantle and DiMaggio from 78 World series Does anyone have and idea what's it worth????

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      8 years ago

      @steve95: Really have to see photos to know much. If authentic, yes there is some value to it.

    • profile image

      steve95 

      8 years ago

      i have a NL ALLSTAR TEAM BALL WITH 27 SIGNATURES AND TOO WAS WONDERING ABOUT THE VALUE,,, IN VERY GOOD SHAPE....

    • profile image

      steve95 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: mine too, is in very good shape, and was wondering if there is a value to go w/it....

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Found out some...it is signed by all of the 26 players from the Candlestick game and their manager. My ball is readable and in great shape but there is no "ball" mark. The ball itself is generic. Which seems to mean it may have been sold at the concession stand.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: hey todd i to have that same one in good condition...mine has 27 signatures,and was just wondering if you found out anything on it..?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      @SportsCollectorsD: Going to try to send a photo one more time

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      8 years ago

      @aboki86: Yes..that's fine.

    • profile image

      aboki86 

      8 years ago

      @SportsCollectorsD: Yea I have a few photos. Can I email them to you at editor@sportscollectorsdaily.com? Thanks.

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      8 years ago

      It really depends on the condition and quality of the signatures. Do you have any photos?

    • profile image

      aboki86 

      8 years ago

      I have a 1927 Baseball signed by the New York Giants. Rogers Hornsby and Fred Fitzgerald are on it. Do you have any idea what its worth or where I should start in trying to sell it?

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Really depends on the condition of the ball and whether it's an official AL ball or not. Is Roger Maris on the ball?

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Sounds like maybe an NL ALL STAR team from the early 60s? There's no Dee White..maybe Bill White? Try matching the signatures to All Star teams at BaseballReference.com.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I have an old ball, in really good shape. I'm having trouble because it has so many signatures on it from different teams (I think). Willie Mays, Orlanda Cepeda, Sandy Koufax, Henry Arron, Dee White etc 22 signatures......Can you tell me where to start?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I have a baseball from approx. 1959 cleveland indians team signed by billy martin and rocky colavito and the tean.Can you give me a approx. value? thanks john keith

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I have a baseball from the cleveland induians signed by the team with bily martin and rocky colavita around 1959.Can you tell me the approx. value?thanks-john keith.l

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      9 years ago

      [in reply to G GAISER] The signatures matter more than what game they came from. If there are at least 18-20 signatures on the ball, they can be considered a team signed ball. Yankees ball is probably worth $500-800, Sox ball about half that. However, it's important that the balls be in good shape with readable signatures. If you need more info you can contact me at editor@sportscollectorsdaily.com.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      my husbands father was a tech with the rocket belt from Bell that went all over the world in the 60's. In 1964 there was an exhibition game between the yankees and the white sox, at the 1964 worlds fair. My husbands father took 2 different balls and had each team sign them with the same pen. These balls were given to my husband-and he was going outside to play with them but his mother took them away and placed them in safe keeping in baggies so he wouldn't. It has many well known names including mickey mantle, roger maris, whitey ford, yogi something or other. as you can tell i know litlle about baseball. We were wondering what if anything these balls may be worth, considering they were only from an exhibition game, and if they were authenticated.

    • lefty78 profile image

      lefty78 

      9 years ago

      Great lens! Would love to see it in my group Total Baseball...5 Stars!

    • profile image

      JoeBlack 

      9 years ago

      Nice lens!! Five-stars. I have only two signed basballs...one by Rennie "7 for 7" Stennett and the other by Tony Fernadez. I don't really think there worth much, but they're pretty cool to have. If you ever get a chance check out my lens about a baseball swing or my site about

    • SportsCollectorsD profile imageAUTHOR

      SportsCollectorsD 

      9 years ago

      [in reply to Mike Mize] Mike, Does the clipping discuss your relative catching the baseball? What stampings are on the ball? Can you email me (editor@sportscollectorsdaily.com)? Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      My wife's grandfather was from Oklahoma, big sports and Mantle fan. He was at game six World Series, Oct. 6, 1952 when Mantle hit his first World Series home run off Billy Loes pitch. Grandfather caught the ball when it landed in the "far left field stands"....This is a quote from a Tulsa Oklahoma newspaper who wrote up this story, shortly after the event.

      Ball is not signed, but has "New York Yankees 1952" written on it. My wife inherited the ball. We are wondering if it is really authentically the ball?

    • profile image

      vinewood 

      9 years ago

      hi

      great lens and super signed baseball , lenrolled and fav'ed your lens , plus rated it 5

      vinewood

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      As I photographed spring training for the Yankees in Florida, I ran into George Steinbrenner whose picture I photographed. I brought a baseball with me in my camera bag. He signed the ball when I told him I was from New York City. Before leaving, after the eigth inning, I ran into Dave Winfield, just coming out of the locker room and waiting for his limo. I asked him to sign the ball saying that I was only interested in two signitures, and his would have to be one of them. He signed the ball and as he went to return the signed ball, he asked me who the other signature belonged to out of curiosity. When I told him it was George Stienbrenner, he slammed it into my hand as he returned it. This was the spring before Stienbrenner was kicked out of baseball for two years and the event which will probably keep him out of the Hall of Fame. At the time, I had no idea why this made him angry. I can remember his olive green silk shirt ,open to show all the gold chains hanging from his neck. GEO

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      Very nice lens and great signed baseballs.

    • CollectorsCottage profile image

      CollectorsCottage 

      10 years ago

      Excellent information - another great 5-star lens! I'm happy to add it to the Collector Clubs group!

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