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1866 Unions vs. Athletics Trophy Baseball (Lipman Pike!)
Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $12,760.00
Extremely rare 1860s trophy game ball between two of the greatest teams of the era, the Unions of Morrisania and the Athletics of Philadelphia. Though no definitive history of the trophy balls once displayed in the Unions' trophy case exists, it is known that many years ago (we believe prior to the 1940s), the team's trophy balls were broken up from their original display case and scattered to the collecting winds. Today, it is very rare to find even a single example, and it is likely that many have not survived. A few can be found in the hobby's most advanced collections. A few have found their way over the years to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. All are extremely desirable and significant. The offered example is one of the most significant because the game which is memorialized by the ball was played between the Unions and the Athletics, making this one of the few trophy baseballs of the era known to exist involving two of the most significant clubs of the era. The bright gold lemon-peel style ball reads "Philadelphia/1866/Oct. 27/ Union Athletic/42-29/ 8 Innings." A copy of an account of this game published in The New York Times accompanies. The Unions were considered by many to be the Champions of America in the 1860s. The Unions team included George Wright at shortstop, who played for the Unions in 1866 before joining the Cincinnati Red Stockings the following season. The Atlantics included stars such as Al Reach, Dick McBride, and Lipman Pike, who has an additional significance as the first professional Jewish baseball player in America, and, like Al Reach and George Wright, one of the first players to be acknowledged as a professional. Each of these early stars were among the game's most important pioneers of professional baseball, and played one of the 1866 season's most celebrated games with this very ball. 1866 was Lipman Pike's first year as a professional ballplayer, and in that year he, along with two teammates on the ostensibly amateur Philadelphia Athletics, was ordered to appear before the judiciary committee of the governing National Association of Base Ball Players to answer charges that he had accepted pay for his services. This controversy played a significant role in paving the way toward accepting and legitimizing the increasingly widespread practice of paying salaries to the game's best players. By 1869, all-professional teams were admitted to the Association, and baseball at the highest levels of play was recognized as a professional sport. There is some crazing and minor chipping to the paint on the ball but it has a superb overall appearance and spectacular display value. Almost all the gold is intact and all the notations are bold and easy to read. In this era it was a tradition for the game ball (only a single ball was used for the entire game at this time) to be decorated with the key information relating to the game (including the date, teams, and score) and presented to the victor for display in the winning team's clubhouse trophy case. All early trophy balls are extremely rare and prized by collectors. This is an extraordinary relic from the earliest days of the game which has never before been seen at auction. Overall in Very Good condition. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $4,000/$6,000. SOLD FOR $12,760.00
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