The intersection of sports and the entertainment industry has existed for generations, but it rarely comes together the way that it will for a piece of Beatles baseball memorabilia on Friday.
A ball with a special connection to the end of a long and winding road by the most famous group in music history has a chance to fetch a six-figure price at auction.
Baseball autographed by the Beatles is up for sale
Julien’s Auctions in Culver City, California, has assembled a Beatles auction scheduled for April 10, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr breaking up.
There will likely be some spirited bidding on one-of-a-kind items including Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics to “Hey Jude” and Lennon’s “Bagism” drawing featured in his 1969 bed-ins for peace documentary with Yoko Ono.
Sports fans, however, will gravitate toward the baseball signed by the band’s four members the day of their Aug. 29, 1966, show at Candlestick Park. The 33-minute performance was at the stadium the San Francisco Giants called home from 1960-99.
The Beatles ball would already be regarded as special because it’s a single piece with all four signatures, and only three other such baseballs are known to exist. However, just as the date of the auction has significance because of the breakup of the Beatles, the date associated with the ball has special meaning, too.
Candlestick Park was the Beatles’ last official concert
The Beatles toured Germany, Japan, and the Philippines early in the summer of 1966 and then took five weeks off before heading to North America. The schedule in the United States and Canada was grueling by any measure.
Beginning on Aug. 12, 1966, with two shows in Chicago, the Beatles did 19 performances in 18 days, doubling up in the same city five times along the way. Beginning with the Chicago show the band played eight consecutive days – and it would have been 10 in a row had there not been an Aug. 20 rainout in Cincinnati that was made up the following day at Crosley Field.
Candlestick Park on Aug. 29 was the final show of the tour. What wasn’t known at the time was that it would also be the Beatles’ final official concert. Tired of the travel and the combination of inferior equipment and fan frenzy that made it nearly impossible for the band members to hear themselves during performances, the Beatles never played a scheduled live show again.
Their last public performance for the Beatles was the spontaneous show from the roof of the Apple music label in London on Jan. 30, 1969.
A footnote: Paul McCartney returned to Candlestick Park on Aug. 14, 2014, to bring the curtain down on the stadium. It was demolished the following year.
The autographs on the ball were acquired by Mike Murphy, who was a new clubhouse employee for the Giants at the time, and the memento was given to his sister Anna, a Beatles fan. The ball sat in a closet for 35 years before she sold it to a collector in 2001.
What have other autographed baseballs sold for?
Julien’s Auctions is projecting a sale price for the ball signed by the Beatles at between $80,000 and $100,000, so it won’t approach the record for an autographed baseball.
A Babe Ruth baseball sold for $388,375 in 2014, but that record was crushed four years later by one signed by Ruth and 10 others.
The ball with the signatures of 11 of the first Hall of Famers – Ruth, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Connie Mack, Tris Speaker, George Sisler, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, and Grover Cleveland Alexander – sold for $632,369. The same ball sold for a relatively modest $55,000 in 1997.
In 2006, a ball signed by Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, his actress wife, sold for $191,000.