The story begins in a majestic old ballpark that was pressed hard against Coogan's Bluff in the Manhattan section in New York City. Little had anyone realized at the time that this 9-inch, 5-ounce sphere would become one of the most prized and best documented baseballs of its kind, a 1934 All-Star game-used ball known simply as the 'Matchless Ball'. The greatest players in baseball assembled at the Polo Grounds on that hot July afternoon to do battle in front of 48,000 adoring fans. The ball is an Official American League Harridge baseball with red and blue stitching. REACH produced these baseballs with the combination of the 'William Harridge' stamped signature along with 'President, American League' for only a short period of time, 1931-1934. The ball has yellowed over the past 74 years and shows solid game usage with obvious bat marks and evidence of the mud that was rubbed into every ball before the start of a game. Although it may never be proven, this very well may have been the ball hit for a home-run by either Frankie Frisch or Joe Medwick, since very few balls were actually used in games those days, and most were retrieved when hit out of the parks.
The Matchless Ball features a total of twenty signatures, nineteen of whom played in the game, as well as the initials of Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. The sweet spot is graced with the signature of Babe Ruth (d.1948, 4-5) who was playing in his second and last All-Star game. The remaining panels include North Panel: Jimmie Foxx (d.1967, 4), Jack Russell (d.1990, 4), Heinie Manush (d.1971, 3), Mel Harder (d.2002, 4), Sam West (d.1985, "3"), Charlie Ruffing (d.1986, 4), Al Simmons (d.1956, 5); South Panel: Lefty Gomez (d.1989, 5), Walter Johnson (coach, d.1946, 5), Ben Chapman (d.1993, 3-4), Jimmy Dykes (d.1976, 3); East Panel: Joe Cronin (d.1984, 4), Earl Averill (d.1983, 4), Charlie Gehringer (d.1993, 5); West Panel: Mickey Cochrane (d.1962, 5), Lou Gehrig (d.1941, 2-3), Tommy Bridges (d.1968, 4), Bill Dickey (d.1993, 4-5) and Tom Henrich (4-5). Although Henrich's signature appears on the ball, he did not play in that game. Henrich explains, in an affidavit, that he added his signature years later at the request of the original owner, who was a longtime friend.
The provenance accompanying the 'Matchless Ball' is incredible. The documentation includes a copy of the affidavit from Mel Harder attesting to the authenticity that the ball was used in the 1934 All-Star game and was signed by himself and his teammates. There are also (8) photographs that include Harder, Henrich, and the ball on display at The Babe Ruth Museum, where it was on loan for nearly six years and displayed during the Centennial Celebration of Babe Ruth's birth. The detailed documentation also includes a 107-page published book titled Pitched from the Past; The Journey of The Matchless Ball, by Dan de la Torre, and a photocopy of Harder's letter to de la Torre that is included in the foreword to the book. According to Harder, this ball is one of two or three game-used baseballs that the American League squad signed that day, and despite an exhaustive search, no other A.L. team-signed 1934 All-Star game-used baseball has ever surfaced. The 'Matchless Ball' has appeared on ESPN, FOX News, PBS, and featured in more than a dozen articles in newspapers and magazines. The book that accompanies the ball has paper inserts featuring authentic signatures of Harder, the winning pitcher, and Tommy Henrich. The term 'Matchless Ball' is a registered trademark. This incredible ball comes with a full photo LOA from James Spence Authentications.