Bradley Sweater – Early Sports Advertising

Cobb Endorsement BThe Bradley Knitting Company was a clothing manufacturer based in Delavan, Wisconsin, that manufacturerd a variety of knitted items including gloves, hosiery, swimsuits, and sweaters.  In the mid 1920s, the company manufactured sweaters for many major league baseball teams.  The company advertised their affiliation with the major league teams and offered the “Bradley Big League Sweater” to youngsters through a series of advertisements in Baseball magazine.

Each of the Baseball magazine ads contained an endorsement from a major league manager.  There were nine endorsements in total, including Clark Griffith, John McGraw, Bill Killefer, Art Fletcher, Miller Huggins, Dave Bancroft, Ty Cobb, PJ Moran, and George Sisler – quite a bit of star power.*

The endorsements were (as one would expect) actually written by Bradley, in the form of a quote, attributed to the team manager.  Each of the managers who endorsed the product was sent a letter with their “endorsement.”  They were simply asked to sign their name to the quote, and then their signature was reproduced, along with the quote, for the purposes of the print advertisement.

Cobb Endorsement A copyOur Winter auction will feature four lots that represent four of the nine manager endorsements – Ty Cobb, George Sisler, Bill Killefer and Art Fletcher.  Each of the endorsements has been signed directly by the player, whose signature diligently copied into the design of a print ad that featured that manager.  Each of the four endorsements has been authenticated by James Spence Authentication, however, in the case of these four lots, the autograph is almost besides the point – the value lies in the historical significance of the player endorsement itself.

Cobb Endorsement DThe first lot features the endorsement of Ty Cobb.  Cobb, as manager of the Detroit Tigers, signed his name to the quote “You golks are to be congratulated on your Big League Sweater – the fellows all agree it’s the biggest, warmest, softest – all around “best” sweater they ever put on.”  Cobb’s signature, as you can see from the image, was enhanced with some sort of white paint, ostensibly to reduce smudges and make the signature reproduce more cleanly.  The enhancement is reflected in the JSA LOA – however, what is important is the fact that the signature itself is faithfully reproduced in the print ad.  Also included in this lot is a copy of the June, 1924 issue of Baseball magazine with the Cobb ad on the back cover, a photo print of Cobb wearing a Bradley sweater, and a copy of a letter written to E.D. Soden of Baseball magazine, concerning the list of managerial endorsements.

George Sisler EndorsementHall of Famer and Manager George Sisler’s Bradley Sweater endorsement, dated December of 1923, clearly illustrates that the members of the St. Louis Browns would each receive a free Bradley Sweater in exchange for lining up and taking a photo for their ad.  Sisler signed his name to the endorsement “How do we like Bradley?  Fine with everybody – just about sweater perfection, I’ll tell the world.”

Despite being sweater perfection, Sisler felt the need to add a handwritten notation that his endorsement of the Bradley product pertained only to those sweaters used by the St. Louis Browns, and not as a personal endorsement of Bradley Sweaters in general.  An outstanding quality signature and letter, with handwritten notations, accompanied by a reproduction of the Browns’ Sisler ad.

Each of the four lots carries a full LOA from James Spence Authentication, a unique piece of baseball history and an outstanding chronicle of the business side of sports advertising, from its very earliest days.

*NOTE: After the publication of this entry, we were made aware of a TENTH endorsement – from Hall of Fame Manager Bill McKechnie.

A great hobby mystery

North Carolina GuyWhen our consignor approached us with the material that makes up this incredibly interesting lot, we felt we were absolutely up for the challenge.  The consignment consisted of a number of items, all initially purchased from an estate whose name has been lost to history, and included a large black and white photograph of a member of what we believe to be the Winston-Salem Twins of the North Carolina State League.  Also included was a side-written 1910-15 era Louisville Slugger bat, a well-worn pair of flannel baseball pants, a pair of heavy, red stirrup socks, and a pair of baseball spikes.  We had the player’s picture, his bat, his pants, his socks and his shoes – but not his name.

The only hint is side-written on the bat: in grease pencil, appears the first name “Glenn” and a last name that appears to begin with the letter “S.”  By heavily manipulating the bat image, there are a number of possible letters we can make out, but we cannot hazard a guess as to what it might be.

Winston Salem Player PhotoThe photo, framed to approximately 18 1/2″ x 23″, is large, and in its original, vintage frame, from McElfish Artistic Framing of Frostburg, MD.  While we could easily remove the backing from the frame to examine the back of the photo, doing so would likely ruin the frame and would certainly destroy the brittle backing, and so we are not likely to do it.

Winston Salem Bat BackThe bat is in very good condition, a gorgeous, early Louisville Slugger that has a crack on the reverse handle that has been repaired by a number of nails (quite long ago, as the nails are blended nicely into the bat’s patina), and there is quite a bit of grain separation, on both the front and back barrel.  The flannel pants are Spalding pants, soiled with age but in excellent condition, as are the socks.  The spikes are well worn but still intact, with some rust on the spikes themselves; our ball player had very small feet.  The photo is lovely, in what appears to be its original frame.  An outstanding collection, and an awesome mystery that we are still trying to solve!

The highest-graded 1941 Lou Gehrig Memorial ticket

Gehrig Ticket AThe passing of Lou Gehrig was a national tragedy, his illness was devastating news to a nation that was growing up at the same time as our National Pastime.  Recovering from a Great Depression and embracing the entertainment provided by the game, fans embraced its superstars as national heroes.  The “Iron Horse” was synonymous with dependability, his impossible streak of 2,130 consecutive games played a symbol of hard work, dedication, and the “stick-to-it-iveness” that became a core American value.  Early in the 1939 season, that ironclad ideal took a serious blow when Gehrig removed himself from the starting lineup, and Gehrig’s struggle with the disease that would eventually bear his name was well-documented.  Even today, Gehrig remains one of the most recognized names in American sports, and his streak and subsequent struggle with what is commonly thought of as ALS is well-known among contemporary sports fans.

Gehrig passed on June 2 of 1941, at the young age of 37.  The following month, on July 4 (the second anniversary of Gehrig’s famed “Luckiest Man” speech), the Yankees planned to dedicate a monument to be placed in the Yankee Stadium centerfield, honoring Gehrig, to be placed adjacent to the monument honoring Miller Huggins.  The schedule for that date included a doubleheader between the Yankees and the Philadelphia Athletics, and between games, the new monument would be dedicated.  The weather, famously, did not cooperate, and the doubleheader – as well as the dedication ceremony – were forced to be rescheduled for July 6.

Perhaps due to the fact that the game was rescheduled and tickets needed to accompany fans to the stadium twice, a ticket that would even in 1941 have been considered a collectors item is scarce and difficult to find in high grade.  Even stubs from the game are difficult to find and typically command hundreds of dollars.  Full tickets, however, are in a different stratosphere – as of this writing, PSA has graded just eight examples without the Void Stamp with only one – this example – graded with a higher numerical grade than EX 5 (a second example has been graded NM 7 with a qualifier that reduces the value of the grade by two points).  The most recent sale

Graded NM-MT 8 by PSA, this example is absolutely stunning; a full ticket that is virtually perfect in every way.  Featuring blue edges (the tickets can be found with different colored edges, depending on the section of the Stadium) and a beautiful, clean bust of the Yankee captain, the words “Lou Gehrig Memorial” are emblazoned across the ticket, signifiying the special event.  Slight touches to the corners, resulting in the tiniest chipping of the blue color in one area, are the only visible wear on this ticket.  One can only speculate as to how such a specimen could have survived not only the original date but the rescheduled game in such perfect condition.

This is an extraordinarily desirable ticket, among the most valuable of all tickets from the era.  The next highest-graded example, a PSA EX 5, sold for $17,000 at auction in 2011, with lower-graded examples fetching prices that support that price level.  This example, clearly the most attractive graded example in existence (SGC has not graded any full tickets from the event), should be the most valuable, the single, shining example of the date Yankee Stadium’s fabled Monument Park was born.

Another Gehrig Bat – Coming in January!

Gehrig Bat - Long View We’re thrilled to bring you another Lou Gehrig game-used bat in our January auction, another beautiful Hanna Batrite, another new hobby discovery.

Our Summer sale of a 1930 Lou Gehrig Hanna Batrite bat produced a veritable avalanche of bats adorned with Gehrig’s name; store-models, post-career bats, even bats without any identifying markings whatsoever were all brought to our attention as potential Gehrig gamers for auction.  While we approach each potential consignment with enthusiasm, it was only natural that we approached an October phone call about a possible Gehrig Batrite bat with a bit of cynicism.  The caller, not a baseball fan but an antiques buff, had purchased his bat several decades ago at an antique shop.  The price: $20.

Gehrig Bat - Barrel BrandWe met the bat’s owner later that day in a coffee shop, ironically enough in the same town where we met the consignor of the Gehrig bat we offered in our last auction.  When he handed us the bat, it only took a few seconds for us to determine that the bat was the real thing – another Hanna Batrite model produced for the Iron Horse himself.

We know, at this stage, that the Hanna Manufacturing Company of Athens, GA produced baseball bats for professional use.  Of all the players we speculate may have used the company’s Batrite models, none are more definite than Lou Gehrig, who was called upon to testify in court during a lawsuit between Hillerich & Bradsby and Hanna.  As a result, Gehrig’s use of Hanna Batrite bats is well-documented, more so than with any other major leaguer.  In fact, in addition to Gehrig’s testimony, records available online from the National Archives clearly illustrate the correspondence between Gehrig and Robert Hanna of Hanna Manufacturing.  The correspondence, along with Gehrig’s testimony, clearly demonstrate that Gehrig used Hanna bats for a two-year period.  By reviewing Gehrig’s Hillerich & Bradsby Professional Bat Ordering Records (PBOR), we can identify that two-year period as being between 1929 and 1931.

We also know that Gehrig specifically requested that the weights of his bats be clearly marked on each bat.  This is a specific request that Gehrig made, of both Hillerich & Bradsby and of Hanna Manufacturing.  According to his testimony, Gehrig requested bats of varying weights, fluctuating between 36 and 40 ounces.  From his correspondence with Hanna, we can see that Gehrig typically ordered heavier bats during spring training and earlier in the season, gradually using lighter bats as the season progressed and the rigors of baseball’s arduous schedule wore him down.  Gehrig, in reference to his use of Hanna bats, stated “Two or three Batrite and Spalding bats were sent to me on trial, and I finally placed my orders with the Hanna Manufacturing Company.  I used the Batrite bats I obtained from Hanna Manufacturing Company a good majority of both years I used those bats.”

Gehrig Bat - KnobAs has been noted by John Taube of PSA/DNA, Hanna Manufacturing did not mark bat weights on their retail bats.  Retail bats were either left blank, marked with the bat length, or after 1930, marked with Hanna’s patent stamp.  Any Hanna Batrite bat marked with the weight in the knob is surely a professional bat.

This particular bat, weighing in at exactly 38 oz., is clearly marked as such in the bat knob.

What we find interesting about this bat is that, when compared with the correspondence between Gehrig and Hanna, we can see that in March of 1930, Gehrig appeared to refer specifically to these bats.  In one letter, Gehrig thanks Mr. Atwell of Hanna Manufacturing for the shipment of bats, but states that the bats seem very heavy.  He then orders eight new bats, in various weights, and again specifically asks that they be labeled with the weight.

On March 14 of 1930, Robert Hanna responds to Gehrig and states that the bats which were shipped to Gehrig all weighed between 38 and 39 ounces, and that those bats were meant for spring training and early season use.  Gehrig responded by telegram, ordering new bats with specific weights, each lighter than this 38-oz bat.  It is that March 17 telegram that we feel represented the order for the Hanna bat we sold in our Summer, 2015 auction.

Gehrig Bat - CenterbrandIf that bat was the result of Gehrig’s March 17, 1930 order, we believe this bat to be one of the original bats shipped to Gehrig by the Hanna Manufacturing Company in late 1929/early 1930.  The Hanna logo on the centerbrand would support this hypothesis, as the logo dates the bat to 1929.

The bat itself has received a thorough review by John Taube of PSA/DNA.  The weight is clearly stamped into the knob, and the bat itself has been treated with the identical finish to the Hanna bat we sold previously – something specifically requested by Gehrig in his correspondence.  The “TA” and “11 5” model identifiers are consistent with Gehrig’s model number, and the bat itself was prepared to the exact dimensions of Gehrig’s Louisville Slugger bats.  All this, along with the cleat impressions, slight ball marks and stitch impressions noted by PSA on the barrel, have resulted in a grade of PSA/DNA GU 7.

It should be noted that when we received the bat, it was wrapped in heavy tape from the knob to a spot several inches above the centerbrand, down the barrel – in other words, 2/3 of the bat was completely covered in tape.  Though we are typically not inclined to perform restoration work, the tape needed to be removed in order for us to see the bat’s model number – and while the removal of the tape revealed the correct model number for a Gehrig bat, it also revealed a handle crack, and left a coating of black tape residue.  As such, there has been professional restoration work performed on the bat, to remove the tape, as well as to repair the handle crack and a small crack in the knob.

The bat has an interesting marking at the end of the knob – the letter “B”, stamped in a large, block letter.  It is unknown what this represents, but according to the LOA, “The fact that the ‘B’ is branded may be a factory notation pertaining to the type of wood or finish.  We’re inclined to believe it does not pertain to a player’s initial especially with the knob only stamped with the weight and no other identifier.”  The quality of the stamp – clearly not an amateur marking – would support the supposition that it was likely done at the factory.

This is a beautiful bat.  The finish is a rich, reddish brown, and the wood is a very high-quality ash.  The bat is solid and clean, with very clearly identifiable cleat marks throughout.  Lou Gehrig game-used bats are exceedingly rare, and newly-discovered models are impossibly so.  Estimates are that there are fewer than 20 Gehrig bats known – approximately one Gehrig bat in existence for each Ruth bat.  Though our recent sale of a Lou Gehrig game-used bat has resulted in several such bats being sold at auction in the time since, it is important to understand that Gehrig bats are extraordinarily rare, and clean, attractive examples such as this even more so.  Thoroughly examined and vetted by John Taube of PSA/DNA, this is a brand-new hobby discovery, another beautiful bat with an extraordinary backstory, the classic “antique shop find” that yielded an impossibly rare treasure.

An incredible discovery

The name Lou Criger is one that is known to many deadball era enthusiasts; during his time he was considered one of the greatest catchers the game had known.  The Elkhart, Indiana native was the catcher for most of Cy Young’s wins, staying with the great pitcher during his time with Cleveland, St. Louis and Boston.  He was the Red Sox’ first catcher, and caught every inning in the first World Series.  Criger later revealed that during that series, he turned down a $12,000 offer from a gambler to call “soft pitches” during the Series.  Commissioner Ban Johnson, citing Criger’s honesty and integrity, established a pension fund for retired players – Criger was one of the first recipients.

Criger was our kind of guy.

Health issues plagued the catcher later in his life, as he lost a leg to tuberculosis in 1914 and ultimately relocated to Arizona to take advantage of the warm climate.

In 1930, the Boston Post newspaper hosted an Old-Timer’s Game at Braves Field in Boston, bringing together some of the greatest players ever to take the field.  Such luminaries as Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Ed Walsh, Honus Wagner, and Tris Speaker were present; the game’s first hit delivered by future Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins.

Criger Hi Res Photo

The beloved Criger, unfortunately, could not make the game due to illness, prompting the players to present the player with several mementos from the game, including a large, poster-sized certificate of appreciation which was signed by 49 deadball era figures.  The poster hung in the hallway in Criger’s Arizona home until he passed in 1934, and remained in the possession of his family until our visit to Arizona, where they graciously consigned it to our Winter auction.  It is the family’s desire that the piece find a home in a private collection, perhaps even in the Boston area, where Criger made his name.  The family also consigned a large panoramic photo from the day that was given to Criger by the photographer.

Criger Hi Res Certificate

It is our belief that reproductions of the poster were given to the participating players, as examples have occasionally been seen in the hobby.  For instance, when presenting the poster to James Spence Authentication for review, we were advised that their digital library of exemplars contained a copy.  Additionally, a black and white reproduction was featured in a recent Heritage auction.  However, the original has never been seen.

Until now.

We are thrilled to feature this amazing piece in our winter auction.  It is simply spectacular, measuring 20″ x 29″ in its original frame (likely framed some time after 1930).  Each of the signatures – a veritable “who’s who” of Boston baseball and T206-era history – is strong and bold, and crystal clear, with each measuring approximately 3″ long and nearly an inch high.  While some minor staining can be seen near the bottom of the poster (including what looks like a small tea or coffee drop), these signatures are simply amazing.

The hand-lettered message on the poster, written in calligraphy with red and silver accents, reads as follows:

In Appreciation Lou Criger

We want you to know, old pal, that none of us could forget you, that we were all thinking of you and praying for you as we gathered here in Boston for one more good time together.

God in his wisdom has seen fit to give us various burdens.  Yours has been heavy, but we know that you are giving it a grand and gallant fight, and we know you’ll come thru, for Lou Criger always fought it out until the last strike was called.

The only shadow on the day was the fact that you couldn’t be here, but since you couldn’t we, your old team mates, and the boys you played against, send you this expression of our affection.

The piece is then signed exquisitely by a “dream team” of deadball era players (and fans), each signature more striking and beautiful than the one before it:

Cy Young (HOF), Ty Cobb (HOF), Harry Hooper, Bill Carrigan, William Dinneen, Hugh Bedient, Jack Coombs, Nick Altrock (who added “Still Nutty – Hope you are OK” in the margin), James Collins (HOF), Fred Parent, Edd Roush (HOF), Chief Bender (HOF), Harry Gowdy, George “Candy” LaChance, Rube Oldring, Fred Tenney, Ed Walsh (HOF), Hobe Ferris, Dick Hoblitzell, Dode Paskert, Larry Gardner, Ralph Glaze, Larry Doyle, Emil Fuchs (Braves owner), Thomas Madden, Johnny Evers (HOF), Bill Bradley, Bill McKechnie (HOF), Kitty Bransfield, Fred Clarke (HOF), Jimmy Archer, Nuf Ced McGreevy, Fred Mitchell, Dave Shean, Bill Sweeney (the only signature that, signed in a lighter ink, has faded), Jeff Tesereau, Leslie Mann, Honus Wagner (HOF), Buck Freeman, Clyde Engle, Steve Yerkes, Tris Speaker (HOF), Duffy Lewis, “Smoky” Joe Wood, Ed Cunningham, Fred Hoey (who inscribed “cheerleader” in the margin), and three names we are still working to identify: “Stick Stick Lew Stick,” Joe Conway and Ed Cunningham.

Criger Sigs

This piece is simply incredible, an unbelievably high-end, one-of-a-kind piece that commemorates what may have been the last gathering of some of these Deadball Era greats all in one place.

We will undoubtedly be conducting plenty of research on this game and its players in the time leading up to our winter auction, but we couldn’t resist sharing this amazing piece with you right now.

And, of course, if you’ve got any information on Lew Stick, Joe Conway or Ed Cunningham, feel free to get in touch!

An incredible discovery.

Group portrait of baseball players (left to right) Babe Ruth, Bob Shawkey, and Lou Gehrig of the American League's New York Yankees, sitting on a batting practice backstop on the field at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1930.
Group portrait of baseball players (left to right) Babe Ruth, Bob Shawkey, and Lou Gehrig of the American League’s New York Yankees, sitting on a batting practice backstop on the field at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1930.

Easily our favorite part of running a sports auction is the research component.  Digging into the history of an item, a player or a team, and discovering some obscure detail that can improve a story or increase our knowledge is rewarding, challenging, and most importantly, fun.

This time, we’ve found something that’s never been found before, and it has an enormous impact on the key lot in our current auction.

Several weeks ago, we let you know about the Lou Gehrig game-used bat that would be featured in our summer auction.  It is an extraordinary piece with an incredible backstory, and it’s made lots of news since we announced it, appearing in a variety of articles in newspapers, magazines, and also on television.

While we were designing our catalog, however, we actively searched for a photo of Gehrig, holding a Batrite bat.  On the other occasions when Gehrig Batrites have sold at auction, the listings included a photo of Gehrig, selecting a bat from a bat tray that contained some post-1930 Batrite models, but we’d never found a photo of the Iron Horse with a Batrite featuring the “bat wing” logo.

Two weeks ago we discovered one, taken for the Chicago Daily News, featuring Gehrig alongside Bob Shawkey and Babe Ruth.  The photo depicted Gehrig clearly holding a “bat wing” bat, so much so that it could have been an ad for Hanna Batrite.  We reached out to the Chicago History Museum, who owns the rights to the photo, and procured a license.

What they sent us was astonishing: a 1200 DPI scan from the glass plate negative that illustrated the detail on the bat in a way we hadn’t seen before: the grain patterns on the bat appeared to be a match for the bat in our auction!

Group portrait of baseball players (left to right) Babe Ruth, Bob Shawkey, and Lou Gehrig of the American League's New York Yankees, sitting on a batting practice backstop on the field at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1930.
Group portrait of baseball players (left to right) Babe Ruth, Bob Shawkey, and Lou Gehrig of the American League’s New York Yankees, sitting on a batting practice backstop on the field at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1930.

This week we returned the bat to John Taube of PSA/DNA, who conducted a thorough examination of the bat, and arrived at the same conclusion: we had a photo match, and are in possession of the exact bat being held by Gehrig in the photo!

PSA/DNA found nine different points of reference on the subject bat with the bat in the photo, where the grain alignment of the barrel and centerbrand matched perfectly.  Like fingerprints, grain patterns are unique.  This new discovery increased the grade of the bat from PSA/DNA GU 8.5 to PSA/DNA GU 9.

This is the first and currently only Lou Gehrig professional model bat that has ever been photo matched.  Among the rarest pro model bats in the hobby, this photo match enables us to put this very bat in Gehrig’s hands in Comiskey Park in 1930, clearly establishing Gehrig’s use with photographic proof.  No Lou Gehrig bat exists with such impeccable provenance.

This extraordinary discovery could not have been made without help from the fine folks at the Chicago History Museum, or John Taube of PSA/DNA.  We are thrilled to offer this incredible bat, now dated to 1930, perhaps Gehrig’s finest offensive season.  How many of Gehrig’s 220 hits in 1930 were pounded by this bat?

Love of the Game Auctions Procures New-To-Hobby Gehrig Game-Used Bat

Historically Significant Piece to be Featured in Summer 2015 Auction

GREAT MEADOWS, N.J., May 6, 2015 – When picking a name that speaks to the term “baseball legend,” Lou Gehrig is a common choice. Similarly, when choosing a preferred store-behind-the-door self-defense weapon, a baseball bat frequently serves as a homeowner’s choice. But when a Gehrig game-used bat surfaces in the sports memorabilia hobby – particularly one that for decades did, indeed, sit just inside its owner’s front door for peace of mind – there is nothing ordinary about it.

Great Meadows-based Love of the Game Auctions (LOTG) today announced it has procured a game-used Gehrig bat that will be featured in its Summer 2015 auction. It is one of fewer than 20 known examples, according to PSA ProBatFacts. As such, this PSA/DNA-certified 1929-31 Hanna Batrite R2 measuring 35.5 inches and 37.5 ounces, graded GU 8.5, represents a rare, historically significant piece that already is garnering significant attention.

“This bat was given to the consignor decades ago by a family member of a former Yankee Stadium groundskeeper,” said LOTG’s Al Crisafulli, president of the internet-based sports auction house. “Though the consignor is a Yankee fan, the family is not a baseball family, and without knowledge of the bat’s value it was kept behind the front door for protection – for 30 years.”

Crisafulli added that the bat was nearly left behind during a move in the early 2000s, and a few years later was almost given to a neighborhood child who liked to play ball. “Really, it is amazing that this outstanding piece of memorabilia made it this far, and its history certainly adds color to the story. All that aside, it is gorgeous. It is important. And it is among the most exciting consignments with which an auction house can be entrusted.”

New Jersey's premier Product, Food, & Catalog Photography Studio serving Bergen, Passaic, and Morris counties in NJ and Rockland, Bronx & Orange counties NY.Henry Louis Gehrig (1903-1941), a New York Yankees great, is recognized as one of the game’s most dominant hitters. Also known as The Iron Horse due to his then-record 2,130 consecutive games played, he held the franchise record for the most hits – 2,721 – until Derek Jeter tied it in 2009 (at which point the LOTG consignor considered sending the bat to Jeter as a congratulatory gift in the hopes of scoring some free Yankees tickets). His game-used bats rank among the hobby’s five most desirable for collectors, according to PSA, sharing that distinction with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson.

According to Crisafulli, early word of the consignment has been met with strong enthusiasm. “Beyond its significant value, this is the kind of item that makes baseball fans of all ages feel like kids again,” he said. “Everyone wants to hold this bat – which once belonged to a true American sports legend.”

LOTG’s summer auction will open in late July and run through early August. Crisafulli added that the Gehrig bat will share the spotlight with a growing – and impressive – lineup of featured items including a beautiful 1909-11 T206 near set, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle graded PSA EX 5, a beautiful selection of higher-grade N173 Old Judge Hall of Famer cabinet cards, and much, much more. For more information, visit www.loveofthegameauctions.com.

It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports

A few months ago, acclaimed documentarian Errol Morris interviewed Al from LOTG about the weirder side of collecting. A small part of the interview was featured in Most Valuable Whatever, one in a series of six documentary shorts directed by Morris under the umbrella of “It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports.”

The series has been airing on ESPN, and just made its debut on the internet today.

You can watch it here, learn about Ty Cobb’s dentures, the Butt Fumble Jersey, Maple Leaf Gardens’ clubhouse toilet, and Luis Gonzalez’ bubblegum.

Click here to watch the film online.

Contest Update

Guy in the middleWe have gotten a lot of feedback on who the “guy in the middle” of our Wagner/Clarke postcard is – some from way out in left field, some seem reasonable.  Unfortunately at this point, we’re not confident in any of the guesses thus far.

A few people suggested that the person we’re looking for might be Lew Ritter.  Ritter was a catcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers between 1902 and 1908, who pulled together a .219 lifetime batting average in mostly part-time play.

Of the many suggestions we’re received, there are commonalities between the facial features of Ritter and the gentleman in the center of the postcard photo.  Some pictures of Ritter:

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 10.56.01 AM

 

The problem, of course, is the uniform.

Here’s what’s misleading about the photo in the postcard: the only identifying markings visible on the uniform is on the player’s left sleeve.  It looks like the left side of the letter “B.”  Given that Honus Wagner is wearing what is quite obviously a Pirates uniform, and it’s impossible to tell what jersey Clarke is wearing because it’s underneath his Pirates sweater, the logical conclusion is that the player in the center is with a different team.  It doesn’t take much research to know that Brooklyn and Boston both trained in Hot Springs during the early 1900s – there are plenty of photos documenting that fact.  So if you can find a physical resemblance, it must be that player, no?

Here’s the thing: the player in the center is not wearing a Brooklyn uniform.  He’s also not wearing a Boston uniform.  It appears that what he’s wearing is a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.

The outstanding “Dressed to the Nines” online exhibit from the Baseball Hall of Fame illustrates each team’s home and away uniforms for each season.  It only takes a quick look to realize that neither Brooklyn nor Boston’s uniforms had anything embroidered on the left sleeve.

The Pirates, however, did.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 9.11.50 AMIn the postcard image, Wagner is clearly wearing a uniform consistent with the Pirates’ 1907 uniforms.  Borrowing an image from “Dressed to the Nines,” you can see that clearly.  It appears as if perhaps he’s wearing the team’s road grays, right up to the cap (light cap with dark bill).

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 9.12.08 AMIn 1908, however, Pittsburgh modified their home and away uniform jerseys and caps (the pants and socks look identical).  They removed the “P” patch from the pocket – in fact, they removed the pocket altogether – and, on the upper left sleeve, added the “PBC” patch, for “Pittsburgh Baseball Club.”  They wore similar uniforms in 1909.

You can see what that patch looks like in this team picture.  Not all the players’ jerseys are visible, but if you look closely at the upper sleeves of those wearing jerseys, those “PBC” patches look an awful lot like a plain “B” when the player is facing the camera directly.  You can see it on Wagner himself.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 9.26.27 AM

 


 

 

So why is Wagner wearing a 1907 uniform and the guy in the middle wearing a 1908 uniform?  No idea.

However, we are beginning to take the side of a Net54 poster who suggested that perhaps the player was not a major leaguer at all.

The contest, of course, is still on.