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A rare solo mission from Big Six1923 Christy Mathewson Single Signed Baseball. In the rough and tumble Dead Ball Era of our national pastime, when the sport was populated by brawling drunks and illiterate farmhands, Matty was recognized almost as much for his gentlemanly comportment as he was for his remarkable Hall of Fame abilities. As commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis famously eulogized the fallen baseball hero, "He was an inspiration to everybody, and may we have more of his kind." The 373-game winning right-hander autographed this Official American League (Johnson) ball just two years before his untimely demise, the delayed result of a World War I gas attack.
This early passing, and the nine decades that have since elapsed, have conspired to deny the collecting hobby of all but a meager few autograph exemplars, particularly on the hide of a baseball. Just a small handful of Matty singles have been offered by major auction houses in the past dozen years, and the impressive condition of the presented representation ranks this offering high in that thin population.
The ball derives from the family of Ned Wayburn, a director and producer of the vaudeville era who worked with the likes of Fred Astaire, Al Jolson, Mae West and Will Rogers. While the precise story of his meeting with one of the greatest living baseball stars of the era has been lost to history, certainly Wayburn is the type to have been afforded the VIP status required to gain an audience with Matty.
Here we offer Wayburn's souvenir of the meeting, an ONL (Heydler) ball apparently utilized in a rare victory for the lowly Boston Braves as they hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mathewson was serving as the team's president at this time. The side panel is boldly notated, "Pitt 5, Boston 8, July 20, 1923." But most important is the panel just below, a booming black fountain pen inscription that reads, "To Ned Wayburn Jr. from Christy Mathewson." We'd assess the strength of this writing at a conservative 8.5/10, with handling wear rather than fading of the ink the cause for the minor detraction from perfection. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication. Letter of provenance from Wayburn family.
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2017 June 29 Premium Sportscard Catalog Auction - Dallas