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Lot # 934 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1944 Joe Jackson Handwritten Letter (Transcribed by His Wife) with "Black Betsy" Content

Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $533

While it is a known fact that Joe Jackson's wife and/or sister normally responded to all of the autograph requests he received during his post-banishment years, rarely did they take the time to write anything other than a very brief salutation and his name. The offered piece is a fascinating exception, and given its extraordinary content, it is virtually certain that the content of this letter was personally dictated by Joe. This one-page handwritten letter, dated April 21, 1944, originates from the personal collection of C. Roger Barry, longtime sportswriter with the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts. Barry, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 92, was a lifelong sports fan and during his youth he corresponded with many ballplayers, both current and retired, in an effort to learn more about the sport. This letter from Jackson is in obvious response to one sent by Barry and in it he offers his opinion on who was the greatest player of all time and discuss the type of bat he used. In full:

Dear Mr. Barry, Greatly appreciate the compliment of your dad's and his friend but there were a lot of great Ball Players in my day. Ty Cobb, I think was the greatest all round Ball Player that ever lived. We also had some wonderful pitchers. Walter Johnson Bob Shawkey Herb Pennock Jack Coombs. But I was successful in hitting them all fairly well. I always used a bat of my own model which was called Black Betsy. Hope I have given you what you requested. Yours Very Truly Joe Jackson.

Both the text and signature have been scripted in green fountain pen and grade "10." Because Jackson was semiliterate, his signature, let alone handwritten letters, are virtually nonexistent. The few Joe Jackson signature examples we have today are mostly on legal documents, when he was forced to sign, and all are highly prized by collectors, often selling for tens of thousands of dollars on those rare occasions when they do come to auction. As such, a letter like this, which expresses Jackson's sentiments, if not his actual handwriting, is both an interesting item in its own right and a fascinating alternative for any collector wishing to acquire a representative Joe Jackson "signature," albeit his wife's, without having to spend a fortune to do so. The letter (8 x 9.5 inches) displays two horizontal and two vertical mailing folds; otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition. It is accompanied by the original self-addressed envelope (6 x 3.5 inches, Ex) provided by Barry, postmarked April 21, 1944, from Greenville, South Carolina, that Jackson used to return the letter to him. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $533


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