One of the great things about dealing with sports memorabilia is the “surprise”. From a picture frame with dozens of 1910 baseball cards inside to a 1955 autograph of Roberto Clemente to a 1933 Goudey card of Dizzy Dean, these are the moments we treasure. So, in honor of today’s long-awaited first Spring Training game, the Old Duck will return from sabbatical (for this week only) to share the latest surprise with you.
A few months back, a friend of mine from Massachusetts got in touch with an interesting story. In cleaning out the home of a relative who had passed away, he and his cousins came across something interesting. It was a slightly tattered envelope with more than 25 signatures on the front and back. The envelope had a Cooperstown Hall of Fame logo and had been mailed to someone at Fenway Park in June of 1939. Once I got to examine the envelope in person, it was clear that a unique collectible had been found. Some research at baseball-reference.com told us what we needed to know. The autographs belonged to members of the 1939 Red Sox!
Of course, in today’s age of collectibles, nothing is of value unless it is authenticated. I was thrilled to help the family and sent the item off to an authentication company with a stellar reputation in the hobby. After sitting on pins & needles for a number of weeks, the results came back. Not only were all the signatures valid, there were at least eight (8) Hall of Fame members included.
Now that the item has been authenticated and encased, the next step will be for the family to sell this one-of-a-kind item through an auction house. The envelope will be in an upcoming catalog from Heritage Auctions out of Dallas and bidding will begin in late April. It was an honor to help the family and to have this marvelous artifact pass through my fingers.
Let’s check out the Hall of Famers on the ’39 BoSox, who finished 2nd in the AL with a record of 89-62.
- Ted Williams – The greatest hitter to ever play the game was in his rookie season at age 20. How did he adapt to the majors? Would you believe a .327 BA and a league leading 145 RBI’s?
- Jimmie Foxx – One of the great sluggers in the history of the game, “Double X” led the AL with 35 HR’s and finished 2nd in the MVP voting.
- Lefty Grove – The ace of the pitching staff at age 39, he went 15-4 with a 2.54 ERA. He pitched two more seasons in Boston and finished with 300 career wins.
- Bobby Doerr – In his 3rd campaign with the Sox at age 21, he hit .318. Eventually made nine All-Star teams in his 14 seasons.
- Joe Cronin – Was the Manager of the team at age 32 and one of the best contributors on the field with a .308 BA and 107 RBI’s.
- Herb Pennock – One of the team’s coaches, he pitched in the AL from 1912-1934 and posted 241 victories.
- Eddie Collins – Another member of the coaching staff, he was one of the greatest players of the time and his 25-year career included 3,315 hits and a .333 lifetime BA. His WAR rating of 124.4 is the 12th best all-time.
- Tom Yawkey – The owner of the club from 1933 – 1976, he was voted into Cooperstown by the Veteran’s Committee in 1980.
What will the final price be? As with all collectibles, the market will make the decision. A lucky Red Sox fan will cherish this incredible piece.