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1928 Notre Dame "Win One For The Gipper" Signed Game Ball?
Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $28,750.00
The reason the headline of this lot ends with a question mark is, very simply, because we cannot prove with 100% certainty that this football, signed by the entire 1928 Notre Dame National Championship team including Knute Rockne, is the actual game ball from football's most famous game. It is very possible that this is the actual game ball from the 1928 Notre Dame vs. Army game, at which Coach Knute Rockne gave his "Win one for the Gipper" speech at half-time. At the very least, to the best of our knowledge, this is the only known football signed by the entire 1928 Notre Dame football team. On his deathbed, Notre Dame football hero George Gipp said: "I've got to go Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys - tell them to go in and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy." Eight years later Notre Dame was scoreless against the Army team at halftime. With the room quiet and cleared, Rockne looked above and addressed his players, "Boys, it will be eight years since I visited a sick young Notre Dame man on his deathbed. He had already brought glory to his school as the greatest football player in America. His name was George Gipp. Remember that name. Never forget it. You know, before he died George Gipp called me over close to him and whispered that someday when things are going against us, tell the boys to go out and win just one for the Gipper...This is the day, boys, and you are the team...so GO WIN ONE FOR THE GIPPER." The silence was deafening. The battered team emerged from halftime, charging the field with determination. Before a crowd of 85,000 fans, Notre Dame gave what many consider the greatest demonstration of inspired football playing in the history of the game. Great plays and touchdowns were accompanied by cries of "That's one for the Gipper!" Notre Dame won 12-6. The ball has been in the family of our consignor since 1928. His accompanying letter provides a brief history of the ball and reads as follows: This football, signed by the 1928 Notre Dame Football team, has been in our family for decades. According to our family lore, in 1928 family member Walt Foster Sr. attended a banquet at Notre Dame University in honor of the players and coaches for the 1928 football season. It was at this banquet that Walt Foster Sr., received what he always described to our family as the 1928 game ball for the Notre Dame v. Army game. The significance of the 1928 game is that Knute Rockne gave his famous half time speech asking his players to, "win one for the Gipper." Walt Foster Sr. lived a long and prosperous life both in business and politics. After his death, his son Walt Foster Jr., inherited all the accumulated sports memorabilia his father had collected over the years including the signed football. My father and Uncle Bob Snyder spent countless hours with Walt Foster Jr., and it was through this friendship that prompted Walt Foster Jr. to present the football to my father in the late 1950's. My father, Benjamin Snyder, kept the football in his possession until he presented it to me in 1972. The ball has been in my possession from that date until the present. It is common knowledge within the family that this ball has always been referred to as the game ball; however, there is no proof or documentation positively identifying it as such. We understand that as sports memorabilia has become valuable in recent years that it is very desirable to have absolute proof of such things. Our family knows that this is the "Game Ball" from the famous 1928 "win one for the Gipper" speech game, but we understand that proving this fact is difficult and may be impossible. Hopefully, further research by the ball's new owner will someday provide this proof. It is common knowledge in both Elkhart and South Bend Indiana that Walt Foster Sr., had an extensive collection of sports memorabilia relating to Notre Dame. His interest in Notre Dame Memorabilia had no connection to its monetary value. They were prize possessions to him, with no value other then memories. At the request of curator Frank Ceresi, in 1999 we permitted the football to be showcased at the National Sports Gallery in Washington D.C. Jerry E. Snyder Terri L. SnyderExtensive research does allow the conclusion that all qualities of the ball are consistent with it being the game ball, but that based on currently known information, it is simply impossible to establish with certainty that this was definitely the game ball. Robert Edward Auctions concurs with this assessment. This said, we must note that research did reveal that there is a record of the December 1928 "Civic Testimonial Banquet to the Fighting Irish," the banquet at which the ball was originally obtained according to family lore. Not only is this of special note, but the fact that the ball is signed at all, let alone by an astounding 44 team members representing the complete squad, in the most perfectly neat and ideal manner of presentation possible, makes this a most extraordinary ball, and in itself suggests the possibility of its great significance. The 44 signatures include Knute Rockne, as well as Jack Chevigney, and all players. The signatures have been exhaustively researched, and because of the comings and goings of players, can be dated with certainty to exactly 1928. The ball is a Spalding "Official Inter-Collegiate" model, the very style used by Notre Dame in games. Period notations, in the same black ink as all of the signatures, clearly read "1928 NOTRE DAME VS ARMY." A numeral "6" clearly appears below "ARMY." A numeral below "NOTRE DAME" is very difficult to decipher, and appears to possibly be a "7." Notre Dame won the famous 1928 match over Army by a score of 12-6. Checking the record books, Notre Dame also beat Army in 1930 by a score of 7-6, encouraging researchers to readdress the possibility the ball might date from 1930. The research is very clear and conclusive that the signatures on the ball define it with certainty as the 1928 Notre Dame team. All 44 signatures are of players or coaches for the 1928 team. 21 of these players were with the team for their first year in 1928, and five players played on their last Notre Dame team in 1928. Complete research detail accompanies. The extremely wide estimated range of value is intentional. Whether this is, in fact, the actual game ball may never be known, or may always require a leap of faith. It requires no leap of faith, however, to recoginize this as an extraordinary and unique 1928 Notre Dame team-signed football, with an extraordinary story, and, very possibly, and most extraordinary significance to the history of the game of football. The signatures grade overall an "8" on a scale of "1 to 10." The ball is in Excellent condition. LOAs from Kevin Keating/QMAV, Frank Ceresi/FC Associates, Mike Gutierrez/GAI, and James Spence & Steve Grad/PSA DNA. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000/$100,000. SOLD FOR $28,750.00
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