DiMaggio-Monroe Kiss Ball Story Dates to Hollywood Softball League

Rich Mueller@sportscollectorContributor IIIJuly 26, 2011

It's faded, but we're guessing the DNA is still there somewhere.  The signature seems undeniable.

The 1952 New York Yankees team-signed baseball, signed by both Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, and still bearing Marilyn’s lipstick we told you about earlier this month, is expected to bring in excess of $20,000 when it is offered as part of Heritage Auctions Aug. 4 Signature Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Auction, held in conjunction with the 32nd Annual National Sports Collectors Convention in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, IL.

The ball was one of 15 similarly signed by the 1952 World Champion Yankees and gifted to the victorious squad of a 20th Century Fox intramural softball league, one of whom was Sound Editor Eddie D’Orazio, the father of the consignor of the ball.

“I was only six years old when my dad got this ball,” said D’Orazio’s son. “It was always in the house with us when I lived with my parents, then it came to me, as the oldest son, when dad died in 1969.”

This joint Hollywood and Major League artifact has spent the better part of the last half-century sitting in a box in a closet in the consignor’s house.

“I thought it was a really neat heirloom, so to speak, and something that I always attached to the memory of my dad – he was only 55 when he died – so it was a connection between us,” he said. “I knew it needed to be protected so I kept it in a box in the closet unless I wanted to show it somebody, maybe once every couple of years.”

Autographed 1952 Yankees baseballA Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe signed baseball sold for $191,000 in May of 2006, a world record price realized that still stands to this day. The auction house would not speculate on whether this baseball would bring a similar amount.

The ball has Monroe and DiMaggio’s signature sharing the sweet spot on the ball; their romance and brief 1954 marriage established the pair as one of American history's most famous couples.

Also penned on the ball:  26 signatures from the World Champion 1952 Yankees, notably the rare rookie-format Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Johnny Mize, Billy Martin, Allie Reynolds, Gene Woodling and more.

The Mick finds even more reason to enjoy the 1952 season, inheriting not just DiMaggio's coveted center field position in the Bronx, but also the good fortune to appear on the ball's western panel, where Marilyn's red lipstick kiss is instantly apparent.