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Thursday, November 10, 2005

DiMaggio's First Yankee Uniform

The baseball legend's 1936 New York Yankees home uniform will hit the auction block at Sotheby's New York on December 10. Both the jersey and pants of the pinstriped No. 9 uniform will be auctioned.

As a 21-year-old rookie, "Joltin' Joe," as he was known, helped lead the Yankees to the first of four consecutive World Series titles in the uniform. It is the only year that he wore No. 9. In the years to follow, he wore No. 5.

The Yankee Clipper's weathered uniform is expected to sell for an estimated $600,000, according to Lee Dunbar, director of Sotheby's Collectibles Department.

Dunbar said DiMaggio memorabilia is the rarest of baseball artifacts. "We know of no other rookie uniform that is as historic," she said.

For nearly 70 years DiMaggio's uniform has been collecting cobwebs in the closet of Charles "Smoke" Mason, now 89, who was a Yankee farm league pitcher in the 1930s. Yankee farm leaguers inherited the uniforms of the big league players from the previous year, and Mason was lucky enough to get DiMaggio's.

Next month's auctions also will include 349 other rare and sought-after sports memorabilia pieces, including the original plaster model sculpture of the Heisman Trophy -- expected to go for $200,000 to $300,000 -- and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson's favorite "Black Betsy" bat -- expected to fetch close to $300,000.

Dunbar said Sotheby's expects the auction sales to total about $5 million.

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