Largest Signed Baseball Collection on Display
New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle signed a baseball for Dennis Schrader in 1956, when Schrader was a 9-year-old boy attending a spring training game in Florida, leading to a lifelong obsession: He now has more than 4,600 signed baseballs, certified by Guinness as the largest such collection in the world.
That obsession is now on display at the St. Petersburg Museum of History in Florida. "Schrader’s Little Cooperstown" opened to the public Tuesday, and Schrader was grinning from ear to ear. He and his wife have loaned the balls to the museum for 20 years, and after that, they will be returned to the family.
Previously, Schrader’s baseballs were displayed in a 12-by-14-foot room in his home that had walls a foot thick, a bank vault door, motion sensors and video camera surveillance. The semi-retired mobile home executive once spent $25,000 on a single ball, signed by Joe DiMaggio and then-wife Marilyn Monroe.
He estimates the collection is worth $2 million to $3 million.
The collection is a trip through baseball history, and Schrader will personally give tours of the collection to groups.
There are the obvious great signatures: Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. There are several Negro League balls, a tribute to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League featured in the movie "A League of Their Own," and several signed by celebrities and politicians.