Issued to the legendary hurler upon his induction at Grand Opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame1939 Walter Johnson Presentational Hall of Fame Plaque.
"On August 2, 1907, I encountered the most threatening sight I ever saw in the ball field. He was a rookie, and we licked our lips as we warmed up for the first game of a doubleheader in Washington. Evidently, manager Pongo Joe Cantillon of the Nats had picked a rube out of the cornfields of the deepest bushes to pitch against us... He was a tall, shambling galoot of about twenty, with arms so long they hung far out of his sleeves, and with a sidearm delivery that looked unimpressive at first glance... One of the Tigers imitated a cow mooing, and we hollered at Cantillon: 'Get the pitchfork ready, Joe-- your hayseed's on his way back to the barn.'
The first time I faced him, I watched him take that easy windup. And then something went past me that made me flinch. The thing just hissed with danger. We couldn't touch him. Every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ball park."
--Ty Cobb, on Walter Johnson
Thirty-two years after the greatest hitter and pitcher of the early twentieth century first met in combat, they sat together on the dais on the shores of Lake Otsego in Cooperstown, New York, two of a dozen men honored at the Grand Opening of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In point of fact, their joint distinction was even more exclusive, as they were two of only five players (along with Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson) selected to the official list of the sport's immortals upon the first ballot in 1936. It would take three years for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to commence on June 12, 1939, timed to celebrate the Centennial of our National Pastime.
Presented is Walter Johnson's personal induction plaque, awarded that balmy summer's day that his membership in the game's pantheon became official. While the occasional deaccessioned game used relic from Cooperstown display has entered the collecting hobby--notably Curt Schilling's "Bloody Sock" within this Platinum Night Auction--no piece of this importance issued by the Hall of Fame has ever entered the modern collecting hobby.
It is presented as issued, essentially a high-quality black and white photograph of the original bronze, framed beneath a leather mat with gold embossed lettering that reads, "National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, N.Y." The frame itself is constructed from the same gold-embossed brown leather, at dimensions of 10x13". The frame exhibits handling and storage wear but still presents wonderfully, with the photo and mat free of any defects.
While it's a common (and honest) assertion that you hear from professional athletes, that a World Championship is the pinnacle of achievement, the Hall of Fame provides a guarantee of immortality that a golden ring simply can't match. Thousands have felt the joy of winning the final game of a professional season, but Hall of Famers are a far rarer breed. There are those who would argue that this is the most significant Walter Johnson artifact ever to surface in the collecting hobby, and any collector who felt otherwise would be in for a tough debate. Letter of provenance from Walter Johnson's daughter & grandson.
1939 Walter Johnson Presentational Hall of Fame Plaque.
*A donation of $100 to the American Red Cross is required to attend the Live auction.
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