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Geddy Lee is selling the bulk of his baseball memorabilia collection Dec 6

Geddy Lee is selling some 300 items at Christie’s on December 6. It is being billed as "Selections from The Collection of Geddy Lee.”  For more check out the below interview published today by

Speaking on the phone from his home office, Geddy Lee asks if he can take a second to grab one particular baseball. He knows its story by heart but wants to get it exactly right, in its own words. Of the hundreds of baseballs Lee has collected, this ball is among the least valuable. There are items in his collection worth well over $100,000. They are signed by U.S. presidents and baseball Hall of Famers; they have been thrown in no-hitters and hit for milestone home runs.

But Lee has reached for a ball signed by Bert Shepard, a left-handed pitcher who pitched exactly one game in the major leagues before fading into obscurity. When Shepard signed the ball, he found room between the seams to write his life's story.

"I lost my right leg being shot down over Germany in World War II," Lee says, reading from the ink. "I got a new leg and pitched for the Washington Senators."

At this, Lee starts laughing, but it's an emotional laugh, as if the smile is helping him choke back something more. Lee's parents were Holocaust survivors.

"And then on August 14, 1945," Lee continues, "gave up one run and three hits in five and one-third innings."

It is a box score brought to vivid, handwritten life, and when the bulk of Lee's memorabilia goes to auction next month, that ball will not be among the items for sale. How could anyone put a price on something like that?

"To me, it's kind of just a miraculous thing," Lee said.

If there is such a thing as wholesome indulgence, this is it. Lee, 70, is the singer and renowned bass player of the Canadian rock band Rush. He is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his signature literally etched into its walls. He is a rock star in every sense of the word.

But Lee is also a meticulous curator of the American pastime. Over many decades, Lee has filled his office with baseball treasures. He has a a 1917 Chicago White Sox ball signed by Shoeless Joe Jackson, a 1942 Negro Leagues ball signed by Josh Gibson, and a Mickey Mantle bat that's been traced back to the 1960 World Series. He also has a ball signed by The Beatles and four signed by John F. Kennedy. It is a collection of Rock and Roll excess, but also of passion and stewardship.

Some 300 items from Lee's collection will be auctioned by Christie's on December 6. It is being billed as "Selections from The Collection of Geddy Lee," and the auction house has estimated The Beatles ball alone to be worth upwards of $300,000. Same for the Mantle bat and a ball signed by Rube Waddell. One of the Kennedy autographs could fetch $100,000. It's a lot of money."If you really look at it from an abstract point of view, it's greed," Lee said. "You want to own the game. You want to own a piece of every great player, to hold in your hand a ball that was signed by Lou Gehrig. It just became a magnificent obsession for me."

What's telling, though, are the pieces Lee has decided to keep, and the unmistakable care with which he accumulated so many artifacts in the first place.

"Baseballs, nobody owns them," Lee said. "They're like houses. You take care of them for a while, and then they move on to the next person, the next custodian."

Lee always liked baseball, even if he was never ticketed for the major leagues. As a kid in Toronto, he tried out for a local team but didn't make it. He grew up listening to American League broadcasts from Buffalo and fell in love with Norm Cash, Al Kaline and the potent Tigers teams of the 1960s. Toronto had a Triple A team in those days — the Blue Jays wouldn't arrive for more than a decade — and Lee took a streetcar to see the pros play. He can still picture the wooden bleachers.

By the 1970s, though, Lee was a musician. Playing the game had been replaced by playing on stage, and so he toured the U.S. and Canada, sleeping in hotel rooms past noon, eating breakfast at 1 p.m., and searching the television for something worth watching in the middle of the day. What he found were Cubs games on WGN and eventually Braves games on TBS. His passion was rekindled, and Lee was wired for obsession.

When the broadcasts mentioned players from bygone eras, Lee thumbed through The Baseball Encyclopedia and thrilled at the colorful nicknames of the past. He read Hoopla by Harry Stein and The Southpaw by Mark Harris. He discovered the writings of Roger Angell and Roger Kahn. In 1979, he returned home from tour and contacted the Blue Jays — in their third year of existence and on their way to a third-straight 100-loss season — and purchased season tickets, which he shared with his brother.

"We would ride our bikes down to the old Exhibition Stadium and watch game after game," Lee said. "As many as I could when I wasn't on the road."

Rush already had three albums certified gold. In a little more than a year, the band would begin recording its iconic, five-times-platinum Moving Pictures. For that summer, though, Lee was just a 25-year-old kid riding his bike to baseball games with his brother.

Perhaps he's being coy, but Lee says he "inherited" the ball signed by every member of the 3,000-hit club. It came to him with more than 20 signatures — Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Tris Speaker, Stan Musial — and through various connections in the game, Lee's been able to keep it up to date. Ichiro Suzuki. Miguel Cabrera. Albert Pujols.

"It's a big job to keep adding to it," Lee said. "And I'm running out of space, too!"

Lee was hesitant at first to ask for autographs. His bandmate Neil Peart was notoriously leery of the celebrity spotlight, and Lee didn't like the idea of hassling ballplayers on the field or in the clubhouse. He came into autograph collecting by chance. His blossoming obsession led to a Blue Jays front-office connection who gifted Lee and his brother a set of baseballs signed by various American League players. With those tucked away at home, Lee was on tour in Kansas City when he stumbled upon a memorabilia shop and purchased a signed photo of Satchel Paige and another of Bobby Thomson's "shot heard round the world."

Soon after, he called that Kansas City shop looking for advice on obtaining a specific item.

"I got in my head — and I think this is how every collector starts — wouldn't it be cool to have a baseball signed by Babe Ruth?" Lee said.

The shop owner became a dear friend and mentor who eventually got him a Ruth ball. When Lee acquired the 3,000-hit ball, it was the shop owner who encouraged him to keep adding signatures; to not just admire a piece of history but to maintain it and enhance it.

The rock star talked for a half hour without swearing until he was asked whether he's still in the fantasy baseball league he joined in the 1980s.

"Oh, f— yeah I am!" Lee said.

In the wake of the Moving Pictures album, when Rush was bigger than ever, Lee immersed himself in rotisserie baseball at a time when the hobby required a daily check of newspaper box scores. His league has grown notoriously complex and competitive, with minor-league players, long-term keepers and defensive statistics to make lineup building as realistic as possible. Lee sounded almost embarrassed to admit he hadn't won it since 2019. Four whole years without a trophy, when his Blue Jays are just starting their fourth decade without one.

This season, Lee said, was something of a moral victory. He got off to such a bad start that, "I actually pondered whether I was getting too old for it." But he traded for Pablo López, picked up Kodai Senga and Elly De La Cruz, and got a strong second half from Triston Casas. He finished in a respectable fourth place.

"When the season ends," he said. "My God, I miss the box scores so much."

Truth is, Lee has his own place in baseball history. It's a footnote in the grand scheme of things, but it exists. Rush songs have been used as walk-up music, and former Padres play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian once called a home run by singing the chorus to Fly By Night on the air. Lee threw the ceremonial first pitch for the Blue Jays' home opener in 2013, and he sang the Canadian national anthem for the All-Star Game in 1993. With no pitch pipe and no accompaniment, Lee walked up the microphone and sang a cappella  — but not before someone from the TV network told him he would be "happy to know" 80 million people were watching from home, which did little to calm his nerves.

"The whole thing wound up being a very marvelous experience for me and very memorable," Lee said. "But it's one of those things: Once you do it once, why would you do it again?"

Lee's brother-in-law took a picture of him from the stands, and 30 years later, that picture is still framed in Lee's office. He also added to his baseball collection that day, though he didn't mean to. Marlins closer Bryan Harvey, whom Lee didn't know, gave him a baseball before the first pitch.

"And he just said, 'This is for your son,'" Lee said. "I mean, how sweet is that?"

Lee is a collector by nature and a student of history by choice. He has collected art and wine, he wrote a book about his collection of bass guitars and he's recently begun collecting watches. The baseball collection, he said, has given him a greater understanding of American history. He has a 1946 Montreal Royals baseball with Jackie Robinson's signature on the sweet spot.

"As a Canadian, that's a marvelous piece," Lee said.

As a collector, though, Lee has come to believe that "collections need to be tended, and they need to be fed." And in recent years, Lee realized he'd stopped feeding his baseball collection. In 2008, he purchased more than 200 baseballs signed by Negro League players and immediately donated the entire set to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He's made enough connections that people in the game still gift him artifacts, but he won't sell any of the gifts. They're priceless in their own way.

"I kept a lot of personal things, and a lot of things that I felt my grandson perhaps would be interested to take over eventually in time," Lee said.

Lee will sell the many baseballs in his collection that are signed by U.S. Presidents (an obsession back when he was still aggressively adding). He has Kennedy, Harry Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and some of the signatures are on actual ceremonial first-pitch baseballs. He will also sell the final-out balls from both of Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters, themselves historical artifacts from a different angle.

Packing his office for the sale, Lee said, was an emotional experience. Each item had a history and a story, and some of them Lee had acquired in especially memorable ways. They meant something beyond their hefty price tags. But when Lee was finished packing, he dug into his archive to better display the items he was not ready or willing to let go.

"Within three days, my wife came into the office and said, 'I thought you sold your baseballs!'" Lee said. "I said, 'Well, yeah, some!'"

Some stories, and some baseballs, just aren't for sale.

"Those are symbolic of the life of a person, to me," Lee said. "I sit in the stands as a fan, and I marvel about the beauty of the sport and the grace with which it's played. In almost every game something happens that you've never seen before. I mean, what sport can really boast that? That's baseball to me.

"The items I collected over these years, I collected with passion, I collected with love, and I just have too much! It's time to share with the world again. And that's fine."

It's kind of just a miraculous thing.

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