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    Description

    Ted Williams Game-Used Fielder's Glove Circa 1955 Ted Williams once said, "A man has to have goals - for a day, for a lifetime. That was mine: to have people say, 'There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.'" One is forced to conclude that he achieved this, considering he smacked 500 home runs, amassed 2,600 hits, walked 2,000 times, and won two Triple Crowns, all in spite of losing nearly five seasons to military service. Williams is so single-mindedly associated with the art of hitting that one could almost be forgiven for forgetting that he spent half of his baseball life in the outfield, much of it in the shadow of the famed Green Monster of Fenway Park. And while few would argue that anything in Williams' life took precedence over his obsession with hitting, the Hall of Fame Red Sox outfielder was, at his core, a competitor. We hear so often, in that ancient debate, that Williams was the superior hitter, but Joe DiMaggio was the better all-around player. And while fielding percentage surely tells only part of the story, it's interesting to note that after over 4,000 games between these two legends, only .004 separates them.

    Baseball players have a special connection to their gloves -- though many will allow a teammate to borrow a bat, a ballplayer who will allow another man to use his glove is a rare breed. A glove is like an extension of a player's hand; when you slip one on, it becomes a part of you. Bats, uniforms, caps, shoes come and go. In each case, it is generally considered that age and use will not improve these things, and so no great sentimentality is typically attached. Only the glove, like fine wine or old friends, improves and becomes more dear to a ballplayer with each passing day, as the leather becomes more supple, conforms to the hand in such a unique way that a Ted Williams glove, for example, could only fit Ted Williams exactly. Like Cinderella's slipper, this glove could only belong to one. Consider the incident a couple of years ago when Derek Jeter's glove was stolen from his spring training locker. Surely he has lost countless bats, caps and jerseys to locker room theft over the years, but the loss of his glove was so serious that it dominated the New York sporting press, even before the culprit, a teammate, was apprehended. It seems entirely plausible that any glove used by Ted Williams was dear to him and used for quite a long time, as gloves used by Williams are almost nonexistent. Dozens of mighty bats belonging to Williams have found their way to the auctioneer's block, even several of his Red Sox uniforms have been offered at auction, but this represents the first William's game used fielder's glove to ever be offered for public auction. In the world of collectibles, there are only three known to exist. One was a gift from Williams to a Boston area doctor who still holds it in his collection, and the other resides at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The third is offered here.

    This extraordinary glove has been consigned to us directly by the grandson of its second owner (after Teddy, of course!). This very special gift was 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 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 Rawlings 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. Despite the war-battered appearance, or actually because of it, the glove displays wonderfully well. With so much of the modern game used material showing the wear of only minutes on the diamond, the tremendous Hall of Fame wear evident here is thrilling for scholars of such materials. It's safe to say that no other piece of equipment on earth shows more Ted Williams use than the glove we proudly offer here. And so the time comes to write the next chapter in the fascinating history of this sacred relic, one that began with Ted Williams slipping it onto his hand one day in the mid-1950s, punching his right fist into the pocket, and deciding he liked the way it felt. Even then, he knew it was made just for him. LOA from Joe Phillips/The Glove Collector with additional LOA from DanKnoll & Dave Bushing/SCD Authentic.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2004
    10th-11th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,384

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