Big League Baseballs came across what appears to be a heck of a find, this vintage Spalding National League baseball. Stamped with NL president Ford C. Frick’s signature, it’s a beauty, and there is little information about it. What makes it unique, and apparently extremely rare, are the multi-colored laces. Two-toned laces were a thing of the past by the time Frick became president of the NL, according to all the records available for vintage major league baseballs.
So what gives with this pristine ball, why the two different stitch colors? The last multi-color laced NL ball of the early 1900s is, according to many resources, a John Heydler NL President stamped black and red laced Spalding ball, most likely last put into play in 1933. Frick became the league’s president in 1934, but judging by the manufacturer’s stamp on this ball, it’s most likely from the late ’30s to early ’40s. It also came with the box pictured to the right, but there’s no way to verify that it was originally packaged in this box (although it’s likely that it was).
Multi-colored laces on official MLB baseballs did not come back around again until the 1990s, and we’ve got an incredible story about that coming to BigLeagueBaseballs.com next week.
In the meantime, Big League Baseballs’ forum member and vintage-style baseball creator William Peebles (check out his amazing hand-made baseballs) was kind enough to send in the picture below, taken from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. It is the only other known multi-laced MLB ball like the Frick NL ball that we’ve seen, and there is no photo of the manufacturer’s stamp available. We haven’t been searching for this variety of Official Major League Baseball for long as this is a new discovery, but all of our searches have come up empty for any other information.
The ball pictured, as noted, was hit by Hank Greenberg for his 20th home run in 1940. So we at least know these were used in official MLB regular season games in the 1940 MLB Baseball Season. And since Greenberg was a member of the American League’s Detroit Tigers, this ball should be a Reach-made William Harridge President-stamped American League baseball.
So did both league’s field baseballs with multi-color laces for a short time period? Could these possibly be “mistakes?” Or is it possible that one of the laces has faded completely while the other remained unchanged? I have doubts about both of those possible explanations.
Does anyone out there have any other information on this rare Ford Frick Spalding baseball with two-toned laces, or another variety? We’d love to hear from you in the forum or in the comments section below. If you have another photo of an example of one of these baseballs, please send us an email.