About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How Much is a Baseball Worth?

In Split to Splinters by Max Everhart the investigation is for a missing baseball. Ordinarily a baseball is a generic souvenir. Millions are made every year. There is nothing unique about an individual baseball. You cannot distinguish one ball from another ball. What made the ball in the book special is that it came from the 300th win of Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim Honeycutt.

In the book the value of valuable baseballs is discussed:

In 2006 Barry Bonds hit his 715th home run, breaking Hank Aaron’s record, and that ball sold for $220,000. And Bonds was nowhere near as popular and well-loved as Jim Honeycutt.

Lest readers think the value of what collectors have paid for baseballs is exaggerated the highest prices paid for baseball memorabilia are far higher.

The contract which sent Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees in 1920 was sold at auction in 2005 for $996,000. The contract is famous because it dealt the best player in baseball history to New York and marked the beginning of decades of futility in Boston known as the Bambino’s Curse (Ruth was known as the Bambino).

Baseball cards have long been collected by North American boys. Usually they came in packages of bubble gum. Most have little value and were simply traded between young collectors. An exception is the Honus Wagner card. Only 57 exist. The rarity occurred because Wagner, an opponent of smoking, asked the card to be withdrawn from the cigarette packs in which the cards were placed. The last Wagner card sold went for $2,800,000.

The most valuable bat was used by Babe Ruth to hit his first home run at Yankee Stadium in New York. It fetched almost $1,300,000 at auction.

The highest price paid for an item of baseball memorabilia was for Ruth’s 1920 game jersey. It sold for $4,400,000 at auction.

With regard to baseballs the most valuable baseballs have been from famous home runs.

The highest amount paid for a baseball was $3,000,000 by Todd McFarlane, the creator of the Spawn comic book. He paid the huge sum for the record breaking 70th home run hit by Mark McGwire in 1998.

The highest amount paid for a non-game used signed baseball was $196,100 for a ball autographed jointly by Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio who were briefly married in the 1950’s.

What is striking is that none of the 10 most valuable baseballs involved balls commemorating a pitcher’s accomplishment.

I expect it relates to baseballs being valuable for being the historical artifact to mark a baseball moment. Home runs are remembered for the ball flying over the fence. A baseball to mark a pitcher’s significant win may be the last baseball used in the game but they do not have the same historic connection to a moment in baseball history.

The missing baseball in Split to Splinters, while from a major baseball event, does not have the caché of a major home run ball. An online opinion of the value for an autographed baseball from the 300th win of another Hall of Famer, Warren Spahn, puts the value at $350. I do not know if the opinion is valid but it is ironic if accurate. The ball in Split to Splinters is valued at over $100,000 in the book to give reason for the investigation but it might actually have been worth but a few hundred dollars.
Everhart, Max - (2014) - Go Go Gato; (2015) - Split to Splinters


  1. It's so interesting, Bill, how much value people place on sports memorabilia. It's easy to understand how such items can be worth stealing. Your post made me think of a Las Vegas memorabilia store I've visited a couple of times. Admittedly this one has a focus of music rather than sports. But still, some of the asking prices for some of the items are incredibly high

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It is hard for me to understand paying huge prices for sports memorabilia. I have souvenirs but am not willing to pay large sums for what are really generic items.