GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The sports memorabilia business continues to be a booming one.

In April 2018, a mint condition 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $2.88 million, which was the second-highest price ever paid for a card.

The Mantle card was graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) as a 9 on a scale of 10. It was sold by former NFL offensive lineman Evan Mathis.

The only card that's sold for more is the hobby's holy grail - the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner, which went for $3.12 million in October of 2016.

One West Michigan man has kept a fascinating sports collectible inside a box for more than a quarter century, and has now decided it needs to be brought out for the world to see.

A baseball autographed by the entire 1934 New York Yankees team.

Names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Earle Combs, Frank Crosetti and Bill Dickey are prominently displayed on the ball.

One of the most prominent signatures on the baseball will likely be the reason it sells for big bucks on the secondary market. The Lou Gehrig autograph has been graded a 9 out of 10.

"When I turned 13 years old, my grandmother gave me the ball," said Jan Crow III, 38, of Fennville, Mich.

"My grandfather was good friends with Bill Dickey, who played on the 1934 Yankees team."

Bill Dickey was a Hall-of-Fame baseball player for the New York Yankees, and went onto manage the team after his playing career ended. He went to nine World Series as a Yankee, winning the title 8 times. He was also an 11-time All Star.
Wikipedia, WZZM

Jan Crow I was a prominent physician in Jacksonville, Arkansas. When he wasn't building his Hall-of-Fame career in Yankee pinstripes, Bill Dickey lived in nearby Little Rock during the offseason.

Jan Crow I was a prominent physician in Jacksonville, Arkansas back in the 1930s. He became good friends with New York Yankees Hall-of-Famer, Bill Dickey, who lived nearby in Little Rock, Arkansas during the off-season.
Jan Crow III

"My grandfather attended a Yankees game and Bill Dickey got the ball signed for him then gave it to him after the game," said Crow. "The story I was told was that my grandfather threw it in the top of his closet and never really thought anything else about it.

"My dad didn't even know the ball existed."

After Jan's grandmother gave him the ball, Jan's father took it from him and put it in a safety deposit box.

"My dad didn't think at 13 years old I understood the significance or the value of the ball, and he was right," said Crow. "I knew who Babe Ruth was, so seeing that signature on the ball was kind of cool, but that's about all."

The ball remained hidden away in the safety deposit box until spring 2018 when Crow decided he'd like to get it authenticated, determine its worth, and possibly sell it.

"I never forgot about the ball," Crow said. "It's time for it to be put on display somewhere and not buried in a box."

Jan Crow III was gifted the 1934 baseball from his grandmother when he was just 13 years old. The ball was quickly placed in a safety deposit box, it remained there for 25 years. Until Jan finally decided to share it with the world in June 2018.

In early June, Crow began researching sports memorabilia outlets near his home, and decided on Legends Sports & Games, which is home-based in Grand Rapids, Mich. He reached out to Lou Brown, who is the store owner and arranged a meeting.

"I was excited to see this baseball," said Brown, who has owned Legends Sports & Games since 1988. "It's not everyday a piece of baseball memorabilia like this walks through our doors."

Brown examined the ball, and sent pictures of the signatures to a professional authenticator to make sure they were legit and not stamps.

The baseball was authenticated. Brown made an offer for the ball and Crow accepted it.

"We've got the Babe Ruth signature right on the sweet-spot," Brown said. "There are 23 signatures on the ball, including Lou Gehrig's autograph which I grade a 9 out of 10.

"This ball is going to go for some solid money."

Crow says he's at peace with parting with such an amazing piece of Major League Baseball history.

"I am not in any position in life to display this ball properly," Crow said. "It needs to be in the hands of somebody who not only can truly appreciate it, but who can make sure it's seen and enjoyed by many.

"That ball has been hidden forever. I honestly don't know if anybody besides by Grandpa, Bill Dickey and the rest of the guys who signed the ball knew it existed."

Well, now millions know it exists.

Imagine owning a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Jan Crow from Fennville happens to own just that. Crow recently sold the iconic sports memoribilia, which was signed by every member of the 1934 NY Yankees team.

Lou Brown says the baseball will remain on display at Legends Sports & Games for a short period of time before it's sold. Brown is inviting anybody interested in seeing the ball up close, or taking selfie with it, to visit the store anytime.

"I believe this ball will sell for anywhere between $12,000-$15,000," Brown said. "If people want to see it, they need to swing by our store sooner than later."

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