Zach Wheat Single Signed Baseballs
Team Brooklyn Dodgers
HOF Induction 1959
Brigandi Single Signed POP: 13
(does not include personalized, multi-signed or low quality)
Brigandi Rarity: 5
(Scale 1-5. 1: Common. 5: Scarcest)
Among the most overlooked Hall of Famers, Zack Wheat remains the Dodgers all-time leader in hits, RBI, doubles, triples, and total bases. That's quite an accomplishment especially for a long, storied franchise and a great trivia question for your next cocktail party!
Wheat was that good and considered one the truly great hitters of the dead ball era. Dodger teammate, Casey Stengel, said no one hit a line drive harder than Wheat. In 1917, Baseball Magazine wrote, "What Lajoie was to infielders, Wheat is to outfielders".
Wheat is a tough single signed baseball to locate. He was elected to the Hall in 1959 and passed away shortly after in 1972. Most Zach Wheat autographs come from this limited thirteen year period (1959-72).
Few baseball collectors requested Wheats autograph to be alone on a baseball. During his lifetime balls were not easily attainable and most collectors wanted to get as many autographs as possible on a single ball, creating a "multi signed baseball". A Zach Wheat "Single" is a rarity in the hobby, especially in high grade.
If you're a Dodger fan, a collector of rare singles, or simply rare autographs, Wheat should be towards the top of the list. Whenever a nice Zach Wheat Single Signed baseball is offered, it always get picked up by a discerning collector quickly and don't last long.
Zack Wheat played 18 years for the Brooklyn Dodgers - known most of those years as the Brooklyn Superbas. He holds a career .317 Batting Average, 2,884 Hits, .367 OBP, .817 OPS, and a staggering 4,100 total bases. He was that good. He batted over .300 in 15 of his 19 seasons in baseball and three times he batted over .350!! He was equally a great defensive outfielder (.966 fielding pct.).
We've stated many times that players selected to the Hall before the mid-1960's are particularly special. The voting process seemed more stringent, or at least the competition for eligibility in those early decades was more fierce. In any case, you were a truly great player if you were fortunate to be voted into the Hall during that time. To that point, in 1957 the Veterans Committee realized Wheat was not given the proper consideration he deserved and immediately voted him in. One problem: to be eligible for that committee's consideration, a player had to be fully retired for at least 30 years; Wheat's last season was 1927. His selection was rescinded. However, he was inducted two years later in 1959. No one ever claimed it was easy to enter Cooperstown.
We've discussed many times in the past that evidence of a player's true greatness is his early election to the Hall of Fame. In this case Walsh was elected in 1946. In simpler terms, the voters thought enough of his career to make certain he was selected before other important candidates. We must keep in mind The Hall opened only seven years earlier (1939). He was not part of the group of players inducted years later in the 1970's when the veteran’s committee opened the doors to so many marginal players.
Wheat has a very elegant and somewhat whimsical signature. He took pride in his autograph and it shows. Every letter is usually perfectly penned and not rushed. Wheat's pen pressure was generally strong too and most well-preserved examples are still dark and bold today. He almost always included his middle initial "D" for Davis. On occasion he favored a felt tip pen, probably for ease, (unfortunately not the favored tool from a collectors standpoint.)
Inscriptions were quite rare during Wheat's lifetime, but in the handful of examples known to exist there are actually quite a few 'singles' with inscriptions. Inscriptions include “Brooklyn Dodgers, 1909 thru 1926" and "Philadelphia A's 1927"
About half the time he would add a salutation before his autograph, "Sincerely"
In our history we've only seen about 13 examples ever offered publicly by a dealer, collector or at auction. Ironically, most are are inscribed.
See pics below of all the Zach Wheat single signed baseballs we've seen. (All certified by PSA and JSA).