"presentation silver trophy ball awarded by the Ulster County Agricultural Society to the Mutual B. B. C. in honor of their victory over the Active B. B. C. on September 21, 1865. In the 1860s, the ultimate prize that could be won by a team for being victorious in an organized baseball tournament was a “silver ball.” The coveted “silver ball” was the earliest formal baseball trophy, presented to honor the tournament champions. This is the first important silver trophy ball that has ever come to auction."Also, the Mutual Base Ball Club was owned by the Tammany Hall politician “Boss” Tweed, and the team was involved in Baseballs first gambling scandal. In fact, the gambling scandal happened one week after the tournament for this ball .
The Mutuals were one of the best clubs of the era, but they had a history of “suspicious” losses, and it was openly known within the gambling community that many of their players could be “bought.” Incredibly, just one week after its game with the Actives in Kingston, the Mutuals were involved in what is recognized as baseball’s first major gambling scandal. On September 28, 1865, the Mutuals lost a game to the Brooklyn Eckfords by a score of 23-11. Following that loss it was discovered that three Mutual players, Thomas Devyr (shortstop), William Wansley (catcher), and Edward Duffy (third baseman), each accepted $100 to throw the game. After admitting their involvement in the conspiracy, all three were expelled from baseball shortly after. Incredibly, the trio was eventually reinstated a few years later: Devyr in 1867‚ Duff in 1869‚ and Wansley in 1870.What an incredible item. I can't help but think that this ball belongs in a museum.
Robert Lifson of REA does a great job of providing a detailed description of the ball and its significance, so I'll let his word conclude this blog post.
This is a simply phenomenal relic dating from the earliest days of our national pastime, just months after the Civil War had ended and the great popularity of the game was just beginning to spread throughout the land. The fact that it was awarded to the Mutuals, one of baseballs most historically significant and notorious clubs, just one week prior to their gambling scandal, and was also personally presented to the infamous Boss Tweed, only adds to its great historical significance.Story Link: REA Blog: