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1910 Willie Keeler Testimonial Dinner Reach Mini Glove and Ball
Starting Bid - $100.00 , Sold For - $1,292.50
Exceedingly rare miniature catcher’s mitt and baseball produced as banquet souvenirs for a testimonial dinner given in honor of Willie Keeler on February 21, 1910. While we will never know for certain, perhaps it was his famed sobriquet “Wee Willie” that was the inspiration for these two novel souvenirs, each of which was produced for the occasion by Reach. Both the glove and ball are specially stamped “Willie Keeler – Testimonial Dinner – February 21st, 1910” and each piece also features the Reach company logo. The appeal of these two items, aside from their great rarity (we have never seen another) and association with legendary Hall of Famer Willie Keeler, lies in the fact that the ball and glove are identical in construction and quality to a regulation size ball and catcher’s mitt in every way (material, design, stitching, etc.) except for their small size (the glove measures 4 x 4 inches, while the ball has a circumference of 9.5 inches). The testimonial dinner referenced here was most likely given by the New York Yankees as a retirement party for Keeler. 1909 marked Keeler’s eighteenth Major League season and also his seventh and final season with the Yankees. Although Keeler later appeared in nineteen games with the Giants in 1910 and also played a season of minor league ball the following year, his Major League career effectively came to a close in 1909. Keeler, who once summed up his approach to hitting by stating, “Keep a clear eye, and hit 'em where they ain’t,” was one of the smallest men to play the game. Standing only 5-foot-4 and weighing 140 pounds, Keeler became one of baseball’s greatest hitters in spite of his short stature. Keeler twice led the National League in batting, including a career-high .424 in 1897, and he finished his career with a .341 lifetime average. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939. Both the glove and ball display light wear and are in Excellent condition overall. Together with the original presentation box (4.5 x 4.25 x 3 inches, Vg), bearing a paper label on all sides featuring the Reach logo. Total: 2 items (miniature glove and ball). Reserve $100. Estimate $200/$400. SOLD FOR $1,292.50
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