A 1952 New York Yankees team-signed baseball, signed by both Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, and still bearing Marilyn’s lipstick, kept in a box in a closet for years, is expected to bring in excess of $20,000 when it is offered as part of Heritage Auctions Aug. 4 Signature Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Auction, held in conjunction with the 32nd Annual National Sports Collectors Convention in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Ill.
The ball was one of 15 similarly signed by the 1952 World Champion Yankees and gifted to the victorious squad of a 20th Century Fox intramural softball league, one of whom was sound editor Eddie D’Orazio, the father of the consignor of the ball.
“I was only 6 years old when my dad got this ball,” said D’Orazio’s son. “It was always in the house with us when I lived with my parents, then it came to me, as the oldest son, when dad died in 1969.”
This joint Hollywood and Major League artifact has spent the better part of the last half-century sitting in a box in a closet in the consignor’s house.
“I thought it was a really neat heirloom, so to speak, and something that I always attached to the memory of my dad – he was only 55 when he died – so it was a connection between us,” he said. “I knew it needed to be protected so I kept it in a box in the closet unless I wanted to show it somebody, maybe once every couple of years.”
“Let’s just say that this baseball lived a dream shared by countless millions of red-blooded American males, smooched by the definitive blonde bombshell at her most famous,” said Mark Jordan, consignment director for Heritage Auctions. “I would say that this thing could mount a substantial challenge for the title of most desirable postwar signed baseball on earth.”
A Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe signed baseball sold for $191,000 at Heritage in May of 2006, a record price realized to this day. The auction house would not speculate on whether this baseball would bring a similar amount.
“There’s no telling where the bidding on this could go,” said Jordan. “We do expect, however, that the top collectors in the world will be very carefully considering their bids on this one, which could result in something special.”
The piece has survived in remarkable condition due to the care with which it has been stored. It features Monroe and DiMaggio’s signature sharing the sweet spot on the ball; their romance and brief 1954 marriage established the pair as one of American history's most famous couples.
Joining the iconic lovebirds are 26 signatures from the World Champion 1952 Yankees, notably the rare rookie-format Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Johnny Mize, Billy Martin, Allie Reynolds, Gene Woodling and more.
The Mick finds even more reason to enjoy the 1952 season, inheriting not just DiMaggio's coveted center field position in the Bronx, but also the good fortune to appear on the ball's western panel, where Marilyn's red lipstick kiss is instantly apparent.