Of all the players of the Deadball Era, Christy Mathewson is among the most revered among hobbyists. The legend of the “Christian Gentleman” as exactly that – a college educated gentleman, playing a sport at the time often reserved for miscreants, led him to be one of the most popular and well-liked players of his era. During the War, Mathewson enlisted in the US Army, and was appointed a Captain in the Chemical Warfare Service (along with fellow ballplayers Ty Cobb and Branch Rickey). The tragic 1918 accident that resulted in Mathewson’s exposure to mustard gas during a training excercise certainly shortened his life; eight soldiers died that day but Mathewson and Cobb escaped with their lives.
Memorabilia from Mathewson’s time in the military has filtered its way throughout the hobby over the years; this is one of the most significant pieces we have encountered: Mathewson’s military garment bag. Emblazoned with Mathewson’s name, rank and “C.W.S.,” this outstanding relic is constructed of durable cloth with a heavy leather handle, and measures approximately 28″ x 50″ with multiple pockets, straps, and spaces for the Captain’s uniform and garments. Indeed, Mathewson’s clothing likely accompanied him to France in late 1918 in this very bag – and returned home with him after the accident which ultimately cut his life short.
The bag itself is in ourstanding condition, with normal wear and tear related to its age and usage, including multiple pronounced, visible stains throughout. Mathewson’s printed name and the CWS insignia are printed clearly on the front pocket. We have also included a 6″ x 9″ photo of Mathewson in his military uniform – likely a Type II photo of vintage origin, marked 1922 on the reverse.
One of the more remarkable items we have had the pleasure of offering, a piece that bridges the life of one of the game’s greatest ever ballplayers with the branch of the US Army in which he served, to which ultimately gave his life. A wonderful, museum-quality piece, coming soon in our Fall Premier Auction.