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What is my baseball signed by the 1961 S. F. Giants worth?

Bob wrote:

I have a friend who has and is interested in selling a 1961 S. F. Giants autographed baseball signed by entire team, bat boys. Any idea of its worth?

He is being told all kinds of different values.

Thanks, Bob

Charlie Haeffner's Reply:

One of the most difficult sports items upon which to attach a value is a team-signed ball. This is for various reasons.

Chief among them: Its condition, how it came to be signed by the players, which players signed it, and where their signatures appear on the ball.

Condition is key, and impossible to determine without studying the item in question. Values vary greatly on that factor alone.

How it was signed also falls under the heading of "legitimacy." If it was signed in the presence of the ball's owner (unlikely when it's team-signed), then the owner can confirm the signatures as legitimate. If not, there is always the possibility that some of the signatures were ghosted -- signed by an acquaintance of the players or a clubhouse boy or someone else. This is a problem that occurs far too often in autographed material.

Who signed and where are the other keys. In the matter of the Giants, the major players were obviously Mays and Cepeda and Marichal and McCovey. You say the entire team signed, so we can assume that those signatures are on the ball. But legibility comes into play with them, and their placement. For instance, did Mays sign on the sweet spot? Or are the key signatures buried amid those of lesser players?  

Without answers to these questions, the ball is difficult to assess. And even with such answers, I'm afraid the range would still be significant. There is no reliable price guide dealing with such material, and so prices are all over the place -- ranging from the occasional low auction winning bid (I've seem items of that sort sneak through at $40 or $50) to the often high retail price (in excess of $1,000). Keep in mind, too, that if your friend is selling to a dealer, then he will realize only a percentage of what the dealer might seek in the open market.

I hope this helps.

Charlie Haeffner

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