Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1898 A.J. Reach Signed Letter--Mentions Him Being Baseball's First Free Agent. An important and highly influential figure during baseball's formative years, A.J. Reach starred for 1862-63 Eckford of Brooklyn (National Amateur Association champions) and 1871 Philadelphia Athletics (National Association champions), was a founder and president of the Philadelphia Phillies, founded the Reach Sporting Goods Company and Reach Guide, created the first modern baseball stadium (when he rebuilt the Baker Bowl in 1895), and was, by his own admission, baseball's first free agent.

    In this amazing 1898 one-page typed signed letter, on ornate A.J. Reach Company letterhead to noted sportswriter William Rankin of the New York Clipper, Reach discusses his early baseball career. Packed with amazing baseball content, Reach recalls his early days as a player with Greenpoint, Jackson, and Eckford; the Charter Oak club; Jim Creighton and George Flanley of the Excelsior of Brooklyn; and his status as baseball's first free agent, writing "...I was the first player changing residence from one city to another for the purpose of playing Base Ball which I did do, leaving Eckford of Brooklyn going to Athletic of Philadelphia." Signed in "A.J. Reach" in 9/10 steel-tip black fountain pen.

    One of very few Reach signed letters known to exist, this exemplar is no doubt the finest of the limited supply based on the combination of the letterhead, autograph, and unsurpassed content, which includes the issue of free agency. A century after Reach was "changing residence," Catfish Hunter became baseball's first official free agent when he signed with the Yankees on December 31, 1974. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    16th-17th Thursday-Friday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 288

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 32 days left to consign to the 2019 September 19 The David Hall T206 Collection Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction !

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage auctions is more than just an auction business. They are in the 'preserving history' business as well.
    Alicia Kramer, Daughter of Jerry Kramer, five-time NFL World Champion,
    Garden City, ID
    View More Testimonials

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 May 30  1915 Cracker Jack PSA Set Registry Auction - Dallas
    2019 May 30 1915 Cracker Jack PSA Set Registry Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,406,927