Signed ball by inaugural Hall of Fame inductees sells for record price

A baseball signed at the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 1939 by all of the inductees who attended the ceremony sold on Saturday night for a record price.

The ball, signed by the first class inducted in a Cooperstown ceremony, was signed by 11 of the 12 men who were deemed the sport's first group of greats, including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young and Walter Johnson. It was sold by SCP Auctions for $623,369, shattering the record for a signed baseball.

The signatures on the ball were collected at the time by White Sox third baseman Marv Owen. Owen stored the ball in a fur-lined glove in a safe-deposit box, which kept the signatures in pristine condition by the time he died in 1991.

"The sheer greatness of this ball is simply unrivaled," SCP Auctions president David Kohler said in a statement. "Its historical importance compounded by the impeccable provenance and state of preservation elevate it to singular status as the most important and valuable autographed baseball in the world. The final price certainly proved this."

The signature missing on the ball is that of Lou Gehrig, who was too sick to attend the 1939 induction.

The previous auction record for a signed baseball was one signed by Ruth, which sold for $388,375 in 2012. The most paid for a baseball is the $3 million that Todd McFarlane spent for Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball in January 1999.

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