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Trove of Baseball Memorabilia, Photographs Going to Auction

Christie's experts believe Shoeless Joe's "Black Betsy" might sell for $500,000 to $700,000

This 1928 photo provided by Christie's from its upcoming baseball memorabilia auction shows legendary Negro Leagues slugger Josh Gibson, fifth from the left, when he was a 16-year-old player with the Pittsburgh Crawfords semi-pro baseball team, photo: Christie's via AP
1 year ago

NEW YORK — Nearly 500 baseball artifacts including a “Shoeless” Joe Jackson game bat and material from the Negro Leagues will be auctioned off by Christie’s this fall in New York.

The items come from the National Pastime Museum, an online museum based on a private collection of baseball artifacts, photographs and memorabilia.

Shoeless Joe’s “Black Betsy” bat is one of only two known to survive from his career, and the only one with his full signature in script stamped into the barrel, according to Christie’s. It has the scars of game use, including ball and cleat marks and a handle crack. Christie’s experts think it might sell for $500,000 to $700,000.

Jackson was accused with other Chicago White Sox teammates of accepting payments for throwing the 1919 World Series. The Major League great was acquitted but banned from the sport.

“He’s a legendary figure and to have an actual object that he touched and used in a game, it’s a very special piece,” said Simeon Lipman, Christie’s pop culture specialist.

The auction record for a game-used baseball bat is a 1923 Babe Ruth bat that sold for $1.2 million in 2004.

The sale also has a game bat used by Negro Leagues slugger Josh Gibson when he played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1932 to 1936 and a Jackie Robinson bat that could sell for $300,000 to $400,000. Robinson, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1956, gave the bat to a collector and signed it for him at a 1955 game at Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium.

Steve Costello, a baseball historian and former executive vice president of Steiner Sports collectibles, said “collecting of vintage items is at an all-time high,” because there’s a scarcity of items and an increase in the number of collectors.

The Christie’s sale also includes other items and photography related to the Negro Leagues, including a 1907 book that chronicles the history of black baseball from 1885 through 1907. The “History of Colored Base Ball” was written by Sol White, captain of the Philadelphia Giants and future Hall of Famer. The auction house thinks it might sell for between $15,000 and $20,000.

Christie’s says the total value of the auction items could top $5 million. The sale is scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20.

The museum selling the items did not return an email request for comment.


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