Friday, July 29, 2011

"Dropped from the Top"

1908 Baseball Dropped from Top of Washington Monument Caught by Gabby Street. Subsequent to the publishing of the auction catalog, it was brought to our attention that a baseball purported to be the one caught by Street is within the collection of the Baseball Hall of Fame. While Heritage would contend that an American League baseball with Street family provenance makes a more compelling argument than the Hall of Fame's National League baseball with provenance from the family of the man who tossed the ball from the Monument, this issue must be disclosed nonetheless.

It took thirteen tries until the Washington Senators catcher was able to snag one, and later the crowd that had gathered to watch Gabby Street attempt to catch a ball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument described the sound of the ball hitting Street's mitt as that of a pistol shot. The 535 foot drop took just four and a half seconds, the ball carrying two hundred pounds of force behind it as it reached Street, traveling at one-eighth the speed of a rifle bullet, as a local Washington newspaper reported.

A framed (23x31") reproduction of the newspaper article quotes Street as saying afterwards, "The ball I caught hit my mitt with terrific force, much greater than any pitched ball I have ever caught, and I have caught some pitchers who are given credit for having wonderful speed. Though my mitt is three or four inches thick, the force of the ball benumbed my hand." Presented here is the very ball that made Gabby Street a folk hero of sorts, the one he holds in his right hand as he poses for a photographer's camera at the base of the Monument above the caption "Two seconds after the catch." The shellacked, deeply toned OAL ball is boldly notated "Ball caught from Top of Washington Monument By Chas. E. Street, Aug. 21, 1908." A unique sidenote to Dead Ball era history for the cultured collector. Guide Value or Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000.

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