The bat is not real, but the DiMaggio autograph is ...


In November of 2004, I can remember walking around the Hunt Auction displays at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Ky., and marveling at all the amazing pieces that were slated for that first-ever auction linking the auction house and the famed Kentucky bat makers.

Bats, bats, everywhere, and the one that caught my eye wasn’t even real, although it certainly looked as though it was. Amid literally dozens and dozens of pricey game-used bats from everybody from Jim Thorpe to Babe Ruth, there stood a remarkable painting showing the barrel of a Joe DiMaggio model that looked so real you were tempted to reach out to feel the grain of the wood.

Charles De Simone’s
20th-Century Art Collection marks the continuation of a two-decade odyssey by the acclaimed New York artist that has produced more than 100 one-of-a-kind pieces that celebrate the game of baseball and many of its most famous practitioners. I say “many,” rather than all, because of one of many unique aspects to his series: all of the paintings are signed by the players portrayed, always on a single-signed baseball on the canvas that, like everything else, looks so real that you want to reach out and pick it up.

That would be enough to make any such venture intriguing, but having DiMaggio as the subject is even significant, since for so many years in the 1980s and 1990s he would refuse to sign original artwork.

I mention all this because there is another such De Simone/DiMaggio treasure in our Collect.com Auction, which closes Thursday night. The DiMaggio piece (Lot No. 403) is one of three De Simone offerings in the sale: Cal Ripken and Mike Schmidt are the other two.

I know I can be charged with a blatant bit of electioneering here (the metaphorical vote is done in dollars), but the fine-art lineup in the auction is once again extremely strong, with entries from a wide range of talented artists.

And that DiMaggio piece from 2004 at the Louisville Slugger Auction? It sold for $1,840.