An extraordinary compilation of pre-war legends!
1939 American & National League MVP's Signed Sheets with Lou
Gehrig Handwritten & Signed Letter from The Thomas Jacob
It was just a year ago that Heritage bore witness to an intense bidding war for the American League Most Valuable Player Award presented to Lou Gehrig in 1934 by The Sporting News. The winning bid of $418,250 suggested that history is firmly on the side of the Iron Horse in the position that he had been robbed that year by the Baseball Writers Association of America--widely considered the "official" MVP authority--when they selected Mickey Cochrane for the honor despite the fact that Gehrig had claimed the A.L. Triple Crown in one of the greatest offensive seasons in baseball history (49, 166, .363).
In one of just a small handful of handwritten letters from Gehrig known to have been written following his famous "Luckiest Man" farewell, he makes reference to the trophy, and one other from TSN, as he returned Tom Jacob's mailer to him. On the back of the young collector's July 18, 1939 typed letter, in which Jacob instructs the legendary slugger to sign "on the lines drawn opposite the years 1927 and 1936, which I believe are the years when you were named 'Most Valuable,'" Gehrig responds:
"Dear Tom, I don't know where you got your data but I have trophies in my home to prove I was chosen in '27, '31, '34, '36- Best Wishes, Lou Gehrig. Check with Sporting News."
And, sure enough, Gehrig staked what he believed was his rightful claim to all four spaces on the American League sheet contained within this lot, wrecking Tom's intended theme but supplying us with autographs we far prefer to those of "rightful" owners Lefty Grove and Mickey Cochrane as selected by the BBWAA. The signers of each MVP sheet:
American League: 1923 Babe Ruth, 1924 Walter Johnson, 1925 Roger Peckinpaugh, 1926 George Burns, 1927 Lou Gehrig, 1928 Mickey Cochrane, 1929 Al Simmons, 1930 Joe Cronin, 1931 Lou Gehrig, 1932 Jimmie Foxx, 1933 Jimmie Foxx, 1934 Lou Gehrig, 1935 Hank Greenberg, 1936 Lou Gehrig, 1937 Charles Gehringer, 1938 Jimmie Foxx, 1939 Joe DiMaggio.
National League: 1924 Dazzy Vance, 1925 Rogers Hornsby, 1926 Bob O'Farrell, 1927 Paul Waner, 1928 Jim Bottomley, 1929 Rogers Hornsby, 1930 Bill Terry, 1931-32 Chuck Klein, 1933 Carl Hubbell, 1934 Dizzy Dean (secretarial), 1935 Arky Vaughan, 1936 Carl Hubbell, 1937 Joe Medwick (secretarial), 1938 Ernie Lombardi, 1939 Bucky Walters.
Gehrig's handwritten letter is rendered in 9/10 pencil, while the signed sheets feature fountain pen ink ranging in strength from 8/10 to 10/10. All pages (8.5x11") exhibit a degree of postal and handling wear one would expect, but no condition flaws of any significant distraction. Full LOA from PSA/DNA for NL sheet, AL sheet, Gehrig letter.
The Thomas Jacob Collection of Baseball Centennial Autographs.
As the nation celebrated its summer holiday with picnics and parades, 61,000 New Yorkers sat in stunned silence. Their great American hero, the self-proclaimed "luckiest man on Earth," was quietly informing them that he had caught "a bad break" and must retire from baseball. Two hundred miles away, a young Boston-area boy named Tom Jacob turned off his radio and planned his next letter.
He'd mail it two weeks later, on July 18, 1939 explaining to the dying first baseman that he was building a collection of autographs to mark the Baseball Centennial, and requesting that he sign the carefully designed sheet he had created to document the winners of the American League Most Valuable Player Award. He instructed Gehrig to sign in the blanks for the years 1927 and 1936.
Gehrig would honor the request with not two autographs on the enclosed sheet but four, and a fifth on the back of Tom's returned letter with a handwritten message insisting that he had won four MVP's, not two, and that he had the trophies to prove it. In point of fact, both the youngster and the legendary Yankee were technically correct-Gehrig had also been honored by The Sporting News for seasons that the Baseball Writers Association had made other choices.
Very few autographs signed by the Iron Horse after his heartbreaking farewell exist in the collecting community, but those rare and important signatures represent just a small portion of the intrigue that this special archive contains. From MVP's to executives, from team sheets to inaugural class Hall of Fame rosters, this remarkable labor of love brings the Centennial season to life unlike any collection we've encountered. It's unquestionably one of the most important autograph archives to surface in the hobby.
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