A remarkable relic from the shade of Fenway's Green MonsterCirca 1955 Ted Williams Game Worn Fielder's Glove. Though the tone of debate has softened through each progressive decade since their retirement, it's likely that the question of superiority--Williams or DiMaggio?--will survive as long as baseball fans walk the Earth. While geographic positioning in relation to Beantown or the Big Apple has typically colored the opinions of those engaged in the dialectic, the viewpoint of the more objective could be nutshelled as "Williams was the better hitter, DiMaggio the better fielder." And though it's true that DiMaggio possessed a balletic grace that his gruff fighter pilot counterpart neither possessed nor likely desired, each was tasked with a particularly unique and challenging defensive role during the top half of hometown innings.
In terms of pure acreage, there was no tougher beat to walk Yankee Stadium's center field, a vast expanse that showcased DiMaggio's remarkable footspeed and preternatural instincts for judging a ball off the bat. But Fenway Park's left field dead ends at the oddest architecture in professional sports, a three-story Monster that transforms routine fly balls into stand-up doubles at the slightest miscue. In the cold light of statistics, however, the similarities between the Clipper and the Splinter are striking. Just four one-thousands of a point separate their respective fielding percentages, and DiMaggio's record of 153 outfield assists top Williams' tally by only a baker's dozen. In point of fact, Williams' own fixation on the offensive half of the game likely played a major role in rendering his outfield play an afterthought among baseball historians. We aim to do our part in changing that here.
This extraordinary glove was consigned to us originally by the grandson of its second owner (after Teddy, of course!), a special gift made to a gentleman that managed a retail establishment called "Gelottes Cameras" in Boston from 1941 to 1964. Along with baseball and fishing, photography was a great passion of Ted Williams, who became a frequent customer of our original consignor's grandfather. In 1958, Williams gave the glove to his friend at the camera shop as a gift for the gentleman's son. From 1958 through 1990, it remained in the son's possession, until it was passed down once again to our consignor. A notarized letter from this third generation of the family recounts the provenance well. And though the family was reluctant to part with their sizable archive of personal handwritten letters, telegrams and signed photographs from Williams, color copies that are included in this lot further establish a close friendship spanning at least a decade (letters range from 1952-63), with the topics of correspondence leaning heavily toward photography and fishing.
Further paperwork is offered from top glove expert Joe Phillips, who writes in part, "It is our opinion that this Wilson glove would be the type of professional glove that Williams would have normally used during the years 1955-56. It shows, from its design features, shape, and size to be the 'Model Type A2034,' the top-of-the-line Wilson gloves of this era, and bears the features of the 1955 A2034 model. Though no Wilson markings were found on this glove, we were able to determine its make from the patent numbers stamped on the back of the glove's fingers. These exactly match the Wilson patent numbers supplied from the Wilson catalogs of this era -- these patent numbers being granted exclusively to Wilson Sporting Goods. There are also the remains of the Wilson patch on the glove's wrist strap. We examined the underside of the Wilson wrist strap where "pro stock" numbers in this era were sometimes stamped and found what might be the number "3." Numbers "344A" were normally the Wilson numbers used."
The glove shows tremendous game wear, and was certainly Ted's main glove for a full season at the very least, and likely for two or three. It's clear that the history of several hundreds of games in left field is soaked into the heavily oiled leather of this important relic, and that Ted only saw fit to part with it when his trusted fielding friend had reached the absolute end of its utility. The pocket of the glove shows the tremendous wear of thousands of fly balls from the likes of Mantle, Killebrew and Kaline. As noted by authenticator Joe Phillips, this wear is so severe as to obscure the very markings on the glove. With close inspection, the number "9" can be seen written in vintage marker just to the right of the remaining Wilson tag on the strap. In addition, the fading "LLIAMS" can be made out along the inner thumb portion of the glove. Ted's heart must have broken as a tear in the leather began to edge its way across the wristband, and we would have to assume that it was this mortal wound that forced the Red Sox legend to end the long partnership. If not for this strip of leather finally giving way after so many long summer days on Williams' hand, it's entirely possible, even probable, that Ted would have gone on using it, and the friend in the photography shop would have been given a bat or cap instead.
The glove makes its second appearance in a Heritage auction within this Platinum Night event, consigned by the gentleman who purchased it from us in 2004. Notarized letter of provenance from grandson of recipient. Photocopies of Williams correspondence. Letter of authenticity from Joe Phillips.
Circa 1955 Ted Williams Game Worn Fielder's Glove.
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