One of the rarer and more interesting collectibles in the MLI Auction has been a single signed Lou Gehrig Ball. This never before auction gem has been in the same family for 70 years! The family of Ed Stark who received it direct from the hand of Lou Gehrig himself in 1937 as a 15 year old Boy Scout in Flushing NY.
What makes this ball so incredibly rare besides the high quality near mint Gehrig signature is Gehrig signed the ball on the "sweet spot"! This fact makes this ball a very rare single signed Gehrig ball indeed. "Collectors, myself included, just don't see Lou Gehrig singled signed balls with Lou signing them on the sweet spot around at all ... and to find one with the quality of Gehrig's signature in such a high near mint quality makes this a real Hobby rarity" noted JP Cohen, Memory Lane Inc.'s Director of Auction Consignments.
"We couldn't believe our good fortune when the ball and its owner crossed our path. The signature on the ball is outstanding. It's almost like Gehrig signed it yesterday. It's a smooth, even flowing signature, that's dark and so fully legible. It seems Lou really took care in signing this one!" continued Cohen, "This is a Centerpiece ball for any serious vintage collector's collection. I am definitely envious of the Collector who lands this trophy ball."
Dubbed the BOY SCOUT ball, the history of how this ball came into being is fascinating and tells a lot about the character of the signor Mr. Gehrig as well.
The story begins sometime in the early spring of 1937 when Mr. Gehrig accepts an invitation to be the guest speaker at an annual Father and Son Boy Scout Troop Dinner in Flushing NY, on Long Island about 25 miles east of Manhattan. Lou was at his peak as a player having just led his team to the 1936 World Series championship. * (See footnote below)
When that Friday evening in May arrived, as was tradition, Troop 1 dispatched an escort of Scouts to accompany Mr. Gehrig and his wife Eleanor to the dinner. The evening was to be especially exciting for a young 15 year old scout, as Ed Stark was to receive an award at the dinner for "perfect scout meeting attendance for 3 years straight." Only Ed didn't know at the time the award would be given to him by the great Ironhorse himself. And that the "award" would be a Lou Gehrig signed baseball - a gift from one Ironhorse to another!
Click to See Video
See and hear Ed tell the story himself on the Memory Lane Inc. web site, and see some great vintage Boy Scout footage of Troop 1. Also read about Troop 1's great American heritage as a Who's Who of Boy Scout Troops in its own right as well. Go to www.memorylaneinc.com and go to auction Lot 3 and click on the see the video. Read Ed Stark's Statement too it's full a great vintage details on scouting and on the Gehrig dinner night. Also for your assessment see all the ball's panel images and a close up of the ball's stellar Gehrig signature!
Popular Science and Industrial Arts were big back in the (pre Video game and TV) 1930's so when 15 year old Ed Stark had his "Big Idea" to make a wooden plaque to mount his prized possession he didn't it give a second thought.
Sports Memorabilia back in the '30's was not the "hallowed" things that they are now in 2007. So Ed carefully drilled a small hole into the ball in a place where it would not be seen to mount the ball on a nail on his handmade wooden plaque.
The MOST Important Thing to Remember
But don't be alarmed. The Mounting hole in no way detracts from the ball's display power! It in no way injures or inhibits the magnificent Lou Gehrig signature that Mr. Gehrig so carefully wrote on the ball for "his scout award". This still new like ball with its superb signature on the sweet spot still displays Extraordinarily well! Pure Magnificence!
Further, in talking with Experts this Mounting hole can be fully repaired. The hole is at the ball's bottom panel away from the Near Mint Lou Gehrig "Sweet Spot" signature. This ball displays well in the protective modern Ball box display without any visual detraction to your eye, without any hint of its previous mounting measures. This is no physical detraction from this Rare ball's importance and its exceptional Hobby value. I'm sure Lou himself would not have blamed a 15 year old for mounting the ball for everyone who came into his room to see! This is a magnificent ball indeed.
Contact JP at Memory Lane Inc. for more details. 877-606-LANE (5263) or EMAIL [email protected].
When Lou signed the Boy Scout Ball he was the recognized veteran Team leader on a new Yankee super team that included a young Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon. Frank Crosetti, Red Rolfe, Tony Lazzeri, Tommy Henrich, Red Ruffing, and Lefty Gomez.
During the 1936 Season Gehrig was the AL MVP leading the Yankees to the World Series by hitting a AL and Majors leading 49 Hr's; he was second in the AL with 152 RBI's; he scored an AL's and the Majors best with 167 runs; and batted .354 plus he had the AL's and the Majors best Slugging Average with a .696!
In the 1937 season Gehrig again lead the Yankees to a World Series championship batting 2nd in the AL with .351; hitting the AL's third highest HR's with 37; and driving in the AL's third best in RBI's with 159 while scoring the AL's third best in runs scored with 138; and the league's fourth best Slugging Average .643!
The point being Gehrig was at the height of his career and a busy man. His appearance at a Boy Scout dinner where he sat and ate with the boys and their fathers says something great about the character of this player as a man.