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Mike ‘King’ Kelly cabinet photo ignites six-figure hit parade

NEW YORK — An original studio cabinet style photograph of Mike “King” Kelly, signed, from 1887 sold for a hammer price of $199,500 during a sale of works from the National Pastime Museum. The collection on display by the National Pastime Museum was the life work of Judge Frank Ceresi, who brought a marvelous focus to collecting, preserving and protecting items pertaining to early Negro League baseball, Shoeless Joe Jackson and, generally, vintage players of the vintage game. Ceresi died two years ago. The museum exists with its online presence. The Christie’s Auction was hammered for a total of $7.13 million.

The two-day sale, conducted at Rockefeller Center by Christie’s, ended Oct. 20. Vintage game-used bats tallied huge numbers. One of Joe Jackson’s bats sold for $583,500; a Lou Gehrig gamer sold for $415,500; an Adrian “Cap” Anson pro model bat sold for $427,500; Josh Gibson’s for $319,500, and Jackie Robinson’s for $295,500. A George Sisler game-used bat sold for $137,500, Walter Johnson’s for $118,750, Mickey Mantle’s for $106,250; and Babe Ruth’s for $100,000. A Jimmie Foxx game-used bat sold for $93,750; a Foxx-signed ball sold for $20,000. An Eddie Collins game-used bat sold for $52,500. A Joe Tinker game-used bat sold for $50,000. A Grover Cleveland Alexander game-used bat sold for $47,500. A Frank “Home Run” Baker bat sold for $40,000.

A Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown single-signed baseball fetched $43,750.

A Joe Jackson-signed bill of sale sold for $81,250. A Bill Dickey game-used bat sold for $35,000.

Among other items that sold in the sale that grossed more than $8 million were:

  • Christy Walsh Syndicate signed photo before opening of 1929 series, signed by Ruth, Cobb, Hornsby, Mack, McCarthy, McGraw, $16.250;
  • Lefty Grove pro model bat, 27,500;
  • A Ned Hanlon signed contract for $27,500;
  • The baseball purportedly for the final out of the 1909 World Series between Pitsburgh and Detroit for $21,250;
  • A letter signed by Rube Foster for $15,000; and
  • A photograph of the 1914 Providence Grays, featuring a 19-year-old Babe Ruth, sold for $47,500.
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