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Circa 1880s Jim O'Rourke Signed Sheet
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $10,800
The signature of nineteenth-century Hall of Famer Jim O’Rourke is exceedingly rare and is often absent in even the most advanced autograph collections. Offered here is one of the few examples we have ever seen in the form of a small sheet bearing both his name and handwritten address. O'Rourke has beautifully scripted both in black fountain pen (grading "9"): "Jas. H. O'Rourke/#57 Hamilton St./Bridgeport Conn/Yale College Law School/New Haven. C." While we cannot state the precise date with certainty, the fact that O'Rourke included the address of the Yale Law School makes it a virtual certainly that this piece dates to the mid-1880s (1885-1887). O'Rourke graduated from the Yale Law School in 1887 and practiced law in his hometown of Bridgeport right up until the time of his death in 1919. Also, the Bridgeport City Directories show that O'Rourke only lived at 57 Hamilton St. in Bridgeport between the years 1883 and 1890.
Nicknamed "Orator Jim" for his acute verbosity, O’Rourke played in the National Association, the National League, and the Players' League over the course of his nineteen-year career, and was a member of the New York Giants' 1888 and 1889 World Championship clubs. One of the top hitters of his era, he finished his career with a .310 lifetime average and one batting title (1884 with Buffalo). He is also noteworthy for having made the first hit in National League history, in 1876. Twenty-eight years later, at the age of fifty-two, O'Rourke again made history by becoming the oldest player to play a complete game in the Majors. Coaxed out of retirement for one game by John McGraw, O'Rourke caught all nine innings for the Giants in a game against the Reds at the Polo Grounds on September 22, 1904. O'Rourke had one hit in four at bats as the Giants defeated the Reds 7-5 to clinch the National League pennant. O'Rourke originally retired after the 1893 season but remained in baseball in a number of capacities: managing in the minors, umpiring for one year in the Majors, and serving as president of the Connecticut League (which later became the Eastern Association). O'Rourke passed away in 1919 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945. Although O'Rourke served in an official capacity for a number of years, his signature remains one of the most elusive of all Hall of Fame players. The offered sheet is just the third example we have handled during the past ten years! The sheet (6.5 x 3.5 inches) is affixed to a cardboard backing that is equal to the sheet in its dimensions. Aside from that, the sheet is in Excellent condition overall, with just light wear. Full LOA from James Spence/JSA and full LOA from Mike Gutierrez/MVP Autographs and Sports Memorabilia. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $10,800
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