Lot 141
  • 141

Home Plate From Yankee Stadium, Circa 1923-1973

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Description

  • Base 2 1/2 in.; Spikes 3 in.; From point to back: Width 19 1/2 in.; Length 19 in.
By the late 1960’s, Yankee Stadium, the nation's most historical sports palace, was in desperate need of repair. The toll of 80 million people who had passed through its gates to witness baseball’s greatest dynasty, and various other events in the previous half-century, had begun to show. In the winter of 1966-67 the Stadium was given a $1.5 million facelift, the most complete since its construction in 1923. Cosmetic improvements included the application of ninety tons of paint and the wood bleacher benches became fiberglass. These improvements notwithstanding, rumors circulated that that the Yankees were being enticed to follow the lead of the pro-football Giants to occupy a proposed new stadium across the Hudson in New Jersey. But the tradition of the Yankees prevailed – their roots dug too deep in New York City and The House That Ruth Built. An extensive renovation began immediately after the 1973 season, with the project contracted to the firm Invirex Demolition, Inc. Invirex workmen occupied Yankee Stadium for more than two years as the grand structure was renewed piece by piece. While the work proceeded, the Yankees played their home games in the 1974 and 1975 season in the ballpark of the New York Mets, Shea Stadium. Throughout the project, numerous pieces of the stadium, deemed obsolete, were disposed of in various ways. Some, including a limited selection of seats, were retailed through department store catalogs such as Sears. Other items were given away to insiders, or simply thrown out. Today, these original artifacts obtained during this period are considered by collectors to be among the most prized Stadium artifacts. Among the most extaordinary items ever to surface from this revitalization period is the original home plate offered here. Manufactured by The Seamless Rubber Co.of New Haven Connecticut, the plate is affixed to its original base of layered wood, with five iron spikes protruding from the bottom. It was removed from the bull pen by Invirex, with an accompanying letter of provenance from the firm's President indicating that it had been moved there after being used previously "in the Stadium." The surface and perimeter of the plate show extensive usage wear, with cracking and loss of rubber having occurred in a few areas. Based on the physical characteristics of this stadium relic (extent of wear) and the accompanying source documentation, it is likely that this plate once served as ground zero for some of baseball's defining moments, beginning with Ruth's epic home run on the Stadium's grand opening.

Provenance

This original home plate from Yankee Stadium was recovered during the 1973-74 renovation project by the President of Invirex Demolition, Inc., Jay Schwall. It was held at the company’s storage facility for a period of time, prior to Schwall gifting it, along with several other Stadium artifacts to his attorney Steven J. Lane. It was subsequently sold by Lane at public auction several years ago, where it was purchased by Avron B. Fogelman, former owner of the Kansas City Royals. It has since remained in the personal collection of Avron B. Fogelman.

Literature

Documnetation: 1. A signed letter from Jay Schwall on Invirex Demolition, Inc. letterhead to his attorney Steven J. Lane in which he states that this home plate was removed from the Stadium by his firm, further acknowledging it’s move to the bullpen. 2. A bio of Steven J. Lane along with correspondence from him to Fogelman, detailing his relationship to Schwall and acquisition of the plate. 3. LOA from PSA/DNA.
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