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1948 Alex Pompez Handwritten Letter (Signed "Old Alex")
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $1,200
Three-page handwritten letter (on three separate sheets), dated July 27, 1948, signed by Alex Pompez (first name only), Hall of Fame Negro League owner and executive. In his letter, Pompez writes to Pittsburgh Pirates manager Billy Meyer (Pompez spells his name "Myers" in address) about a top catching prospect. In part:
How are you , you old Rascal. Do any of your boys remember Old Alex, yes it is me. How are all the boys? I am fine and getting along o.k. Even forgot the old bottle. . . . Bill your boys have done o.k. this year. I was glad to see you in charge of them. Probably wouldn't be writing this but I attended a meeting other night with lot of baseball men several of them scouts. I overheard a couple guys talking about a young lad, I happen to know they are watching this lad very close. You fellows had him on contract first of this season, when he had to go in Hosp for a major operation. You released him. Babe Herman signed this lad as a catcher for Santa Rosa, Calif. His name is Joe Thornhill. It was my good luck to see this boy in action. Believe me he is a dandy good hitter and a swell receiver. . . . I think I know a ball player when I see him. Now these guys are watching him very close. One is from the National + one from American. Just as soon as they see he is going to be o.k. they will try to nab him. You guys should get this guy tied up so he will be safe. . . . It is none of my business but when I heard these guys plotting against the old Pirates I just had drop you a line. So listen to old alex and don't go to sleep on this lad. Well, this is the first letter I have written along this line for a long time. Tell old Honus Wagner I said hello. Your Resp. Old Alex.
Both the text and signature have been scripted in blue in and grade "9." Research has failed to find a minor-league player by the name of Joe Thornhill, so he probably never sufficiently recovered to resume his career. 1948 was Meyer's first season as manager of the Pirates and, as Pompez alludes to in his letter, the team responded well to his leadership (they won 83 games that season, which was twenty-one games better than the previous year). Pompez, a Cuban American, was one of the most important figures in Negro League baseball. He founded the New York Cuban Stars in 1916 and owned the club for its entire 35-year existence, during which time the club imported most of the top Latin players in the game. After the Negro Leagues folded in 1950 the Giants hired Pompez as a scout, as they recognized his eye for talent, and more important, they realized his value with regard to recruiting Latin American players. Pompez was also almost single handedly responsible for opening up the Dominican Republic market to major league baseball. Pompez died in 1984, but wasn't elected to the Hall of Fame until 2006. As a result, his signature is very rare today. The letter (6.25 x 9 inches) displays four horizontal folds and a staple hole in the upper left corner. In Excellent condition overall. Full LOA from PSA/DNA and LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $1,200
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