Dear Babe: I have three official baseballs that were home runs I caught in 1977. I had them signed by various (Boston) Red Sox players. You gave me values several years ago, but I wondered if the passage of time, Jim Rice’s induction into the Hall of Fame and Johnny Pesky’s death have added to the value. Here’s what I have:
Ball 1 — Mike Paxton, Jim Willoughby, Walt Hriniak, Carlton Fisk, Charlie Moss, Fred Lynn, George Scott, Bill Campbell.
Ball 2 — Jim Rice, Rick Wise, Bo Diaz, Johnny Pesky, Bill Lee, Jim Willoughby, Reggie Cleveland, Mike Paxton, Denny Doyle, Tommy Helms.
Ball 3 — Rick Wise, Johnny Pesky, Dick Stockton (announcer), Bill Campbell, Reggie Cleveland, Rick Kruger, Jim Paxton, Jim Willoughby, Don Zimmer, Charlie Moss, Mike Paxton, Fergie Jenkins, Denny Doyle, Ken Harrelson (announcer).
— Allen Ouellette, Kingston, N.H.
Pesky, who began his career in 1942, is beloved by Red Sox fans who knew him as the team’s shortstop, manager, announcer and general all-around good guy. He died at the age of 92 in 2012.
He is best known to fans nationwide, because of Pesky’s Pole, the right-field foul pole at venerable Fenway Park.
Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote about Pesky and his pole in a March 31, 2012, article.
“Former Red Sox lefthander Mel Parnell is believed to be the first person to refer to Fenway’s right-field foul pole as ‘Pesky’s Pole.’ Parnell was a Sox broadcaster in the 1960s and enjoyed talking about how Pesky, a power-challenged left-handed hitter, benefited from an occasional fly ball that would hit the pole and go for a home run.”
Quite an honor for a singles hitter, who had just 17 homers in a 10-year major league career — just six of those at Fenway Park. Unfortunately, the news on the balls isn’t good. Here’s what a couple of experts had to say.
Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com): “Unfortunately, your reader is wrong. There is nothing written that says that values should rise after the death of any player. The only case this applies to are deceased players prior to about 1980, before the baseball hobby took off. A healthy market is one that has ups and downs. Especially with modern deceased players, they have signed thousands in the mail, attended convention signing shows and participated in private signings. It will take years for Pesky’s signed memorabilia to be worth more than it was before he died.”
Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com: “The balls are around the same. While the high end of the market has shot up, the lower end (these balls included) has remained the same or even come down a bit. On average, these balls are worth $75 to $100 each. Rice is in the Hall of Fame but still signs many an autograph. Pesky is no longer with us but signed a lot over his lifetime and he is not a Hall of Famer. Put the balls away for years to come or sell them now and invest in something else.”