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The Natural Home Run Ball and Related Movie Memorabilia Including a NY Knights Jersey
Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $4,993.75
One of the most memorable moments in film history occurs at the end of the The Natural , when Robert Redford, in the role of Roy Hobbs, circles the bases amid a cascade of fireworks following his dramatic game-winning home run into the light tower. Offered here is the very ball used during that climatic scene, as well as a number of other significant movie props from the film, including a New York Knights road jersey. The ball, which was purchased by our consignor in Profiles in History's July 28, 2006, Hollywood Auction 25, is accompanied by a one-page letter of provenance from memorabilia specialist Chet Dowling, who acquired it directly from well-known prop maker Christopher Gilman. Dowling's letter, written on his personal stationery and dated December 4, 1992, is addressed "To Gary" and reads in full:
I'm enclosing your order and a check. The Natural display already has a plate so you won't need another one. The display is really nice. It was made by the same craftsman who designed and manufactured the period ball and scorekeeper. His name is Christopher Gilman and his beautiful props are legendary in Hollywood. His latest efforts can be seen in Dracula. Christopher was on the set during the 'Fireworks' home-run and retrieved the baseball, feeling that it would make a nice souvenir. He had other cast and crew members sign it, but then they got a little ambitious and started playing 'catch' with it. Naturally, they wore off the fresh ink on the newly signed ball. But, he didn't mind cause he got to spend some time tossing it around with Robert Redford. Redford had a sheet of Roy Hobbs baseball cards hanging on the wall of his trailer. He cut up the sheet and gave out some autographed cards to members of the crew that he especially liked. The Natural will always be remembered as a special picture. And these props were all handled by Robert Redford. The red-stitched ball displays no manufacturer's markings and is moderately soiled. As noted in Dowling's letter, the ball displays a number of illegible ink signatures, as well as a faded ink notation that reads in part "The Natural - Hand Prop Room." Accompanying the ball is a three-card hand-cut sheet of Roy Hobbs baseball cards, signed in black ink (grading "10") by Robert Redford, and an umpire's ball-strike indicator, both of which originate from Gilman and are also referenced in Dowling's letter. Also included here, but not originating from the same source as the ball, is an original New York Knights road jersey used in the film. The gray flannel jersey features the team name "New York" on the front and features the number "20" on the reverse, each in two-tone navy on orange felt. A replica 1939 Baseball Centennial patch appears on the left sleeve and a "Western Costume Co." stamp is located on the interior right sleeve. The jersey displays moderate wear, including light soiling, overall. The final item in the collection is an 11 x 8.5-inch color photo of Redford circling the bases at the film's end that would be perfect for display together with the ball. This is a historic collection of movie memorabilia relating to The Natural , which is considered by many to be to the finest baseball film ever made. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $4,993.75
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