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Description1936 Napoleon Lajoie Single Signed Baseball. He was born to French Canadian parents who emigrated to the United States, named for the famous conqueror but often called "Larry," a nickname he picked up when a teammate struggled with the pronunciation of his surname. Like his contemporary Shoeless Joe Jackson, Lajoie was a grade school dropout who worked in a textile mill as a boy and quickly showed talent in industrial league play. As word of his slugging prowess spread, Lajoie rose through the semi-professional ranks to the Class B New England League Fall River Indians, and then almost immediately to the Majors for six years in Philadelphia with the Phillies and Athletics. But it was Lajoie's time in Cleveland for which he is best remembered, his popularity so great that the team was dubbed the "Naps" in his honor.
Though Lajoie managed briefly following his retirement as a player, he was out of the game completely by 1918 and rarely within range of autograph seekers as a result. He was a regular signer through the mail, but postcards were the medium used almost exclusively. Signed horsehide remains frustratingly scarce.
Here we present a specimen that is arguably the finest of the maddeningly thin population, the first we've ever encountered utilizing his imperial first name rather than the standard "Larry." We suspect the early signing date--Lajoie notates his autograph "9-20-36"--to be the reason for this deviation from the norm. Remarkably, the OAL (Johnson) baseball is earlier still, the stamping style assuring a production date no later than 1910, the heart of the Cleveland Naps era.
Lajoie's black fountain pen ink rates 7.5/10 on the apparently game used sphere, establishing this as one of the finest singles from the Dead Ball Era legend even in the absence of the other superlatives. A truly remarkable relic for the advanced collector. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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2017 June 29 Premium Sportscard Catalog Auction - Dallas