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Extraordinary Circa 1933 Billy Hamilton Signed Autograph-Album Page (with Ideal Provenance!)
Starting Bid - $2,000, Sold For - $8,400
Album sheet, removed from the legendary autograph album compiled by Dr. John O'Meara in the 1930s, signed by Hall of Fame outfielder "Sliding" Billy Hamilton. Hamilton's signature has been flawlessly scripted in blue fountain pen and grades "10." Encapsulated by Beckett Grading Services, with the autograph certified as "Authentic" by JSA. In 2009 REA had the privilege of handling an incredible album of signatures (which included the Hamilton album page offered here) compiled by Dr. John O'Meara, who was an early pioneer in the field of autograph collecting. A resident of Providence, Rhode Island, O'Meara was not simply a fan, but an astute historian of the game, and his collection included a vast array of correspondence from ballplayers past and present, including George Wright, Connie Mack, Babe Ruth, and Ty Cobb. As we noted in 2009, the compilation of that album was O'Meara's greatest accomplishment and, in its original state, was without question one of the finest baseball autograph albums ever assembled.
The signature of Billy Hamilton is among the rarest of all Hall of Fame players and is missing from virtually all advanced Hall of Fame signature collections. This is due to the fact that his career spanned the years 1888 to 1901, an era in which autograph collecting was not popular, and also because he passed away in 1940 at the age of seventy-four, but wasn't elected to the Hall of Fame until 1961. Given his accomplishments, it seems hard to believe he had to wait so long. Although he stood only 5-feet 6-inches and weighed 165 pounds, Hamilton was one of the greatest offensive players in baseball history. What he lacked in size and power he more than made up for in speed. When Hamilton reached base, which was quite often, he usually scored. Three times he stole over 100 bases in a season and his league-high mark of 192 runs in 1894 remains the Major League record for a single season. A former National League batting champion, Hamilton ranks fourth all-time in on-base percentage (.455) and seventh all-time in batting average (.344). He retired in 1901 as the career leader in stolen bases with 912, a mark that stood for seventy-seven years before being broken by Lou Brock in 1978 (and later by Rickey Henderson). O'Meara, who resided in Providence, Rhode Island, would have had ample opportunity to meet Hamilton, as Hamilton resided in Worcester, Massachusetts, and also worked as a scout for the Red Sox. While many rare signatures were featured in the Dr. John O'Meara baseball autograph album, this Billy Hamilton example was the unquestioned highlight of the group and it represents one of the true "holy grails" for Hall of Fame signature collectors. It has been consigned to this auction directly from the original purchaser in 2009. The page (5.5 x 4.5 inches) has been neatly removed from the original album and is in Near Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA.
SOLD FOR $8,400
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