Claimed by his son at Cooperstown induction ceremony1979 Lewis "Hack" Wilson Personal Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque. Perhaps the most unusual looking player enshrined at Cooperstown, Wilson carried 195 pounds on his five-foot six frame, balanced on short legs and tiny size six feet. Today doctors recognize these traits as hallmarks of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, indicating that Wilson's struggles with the bottle began even before his own birth. His sad decline would likewise be precipitated by the bottle, and he'd die penniless in 1948, buried in grey suit donated by the undertaker. A week before his death, he had been interviewed by CBS Radio, bravely claiming the role of cautionary tale much like Mickey Mantle would nearly a half century later:
"Talent isn't enough. You need common sense and good advice. If anyone tries to tell you different, tell them the story of Hack Wilson. Kids in and out of baseball who think because they have talent they have the world by the tail--it isn't so. Kids, don't be too big to accept advice. Don't let what happened to me happen to you."
Though one of the many tragedies of Wilson's life was his failure to live to enjoy his own Hall of Fame induction in 1979, one hopes that this presentation of his personal plaque taken home that day from Cooperstown by his son will carry the focus back to the brief but brilliant flash of light that was Hack Wilson's Major League career. In the late 1920's and early 1930's, there was no slugger more feared by National League pitchers, and neither the Steroid Era nor the augmented Major League schedule has been able to topple the last great slugging record set before the Second World War--Wilson's 191 runs batted in for the 1930 season.
The offered plaque leads its commentary with that stunning achievement, though the tally listed reports the 190 figure that was later amended upward. It is presented as issued, essentially a high-quality sepia-toned photograph of the original bronze, framed beneath a leather mat with gold embossed lettering that reads, "National Baseball Hall of Fame" The frame itself is constructed from darker brown leather, at dimensions of 9.5x11.5". The frame exhibits only very minor handling and storage wear and still presents wonderfully, with the photo and mat free of any defects.
Our consignor purchased the plaque at a small estate auction in Wilson's hometown of Martinsburg, West Virginia, where he is buried. His letter of provenance will attend, as well as a photocopied image of Wilson's son receiving the plaque at Cooperstown. Letter of provenance from consignor.
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