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Lot # 930 (of 1336)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1898 A. J. Reach Signed Letter with Outstanding Baseball Content - Mentions Jim Creighton!

Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $5,100

One-page typed letter, dated February 21, 1898, signed by A. J. Reach (1840-1928), former star player, team owner, and sporting-goods magnate. In his letter, written upon A. J. Reach Company letterhead, Reach responds to an inquiry made by extremely noted sportswriter William Rankin of the New York Clipper regarding Reach's early career. In full:

Dear Mr. Rankin:- In regard to your question did I catch for a junior nine at Greenpoint, would say I caught and captained for three years for the Jackson Club playing on the old Manor House grounds on which the Eckford Club played. Before graduating from that club to the Eckford might say we played all the prominent junior clubs for two or three years, Including I think the years '58 to '61 and not losing a single game in any of those years. Among the number we played was the Charter Oak which was recognized at the time as a very strong club, I think from which Creighton, Flanley, and other prominent players graduated. Of course if you use any of the above do not know as I would like to have myself named as mentioning these facts, but if my memory served me right the above is correct. Regarding being the first professional player have never given that a thought, but now you speak of it possibly I was, as far as any records I havem [sic] will say think 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. Yours truly, A. J. Reach [signed].

Reach's signature has been scripted in black ink and grades "10." This is only the second A. J. Reach letter we have ever offered and given its incredible baseball content, and the fact that it is written on Reach Company letterhead, we cannot imagine a finer example. Reach was one of the most important and influential figures in baseball. As one of the game's early stars he is widely credited as being the first professional baseball player, a fact which he does not dispute in this letter. After his retirement in 1875 he opened a sporting-goods store and quickly became one of the main suppliers of baseball equipment. In 1883 he began publication of Reach's Official Baseball Guide, which rivaled Spalding's guides in popularity. That same year he founded the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1895, after Baker Bowl burned to the ground, he rebuilt it primarily with steel and concrete construction, thereby ushering in the era of the modern stadium. His final contribution to baseball, albeit a misguided one, took place in 1907, when, as a member of the Mills Commission, he helped foster the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball.

The letter (8.25 x 10 inches) displays one horizontal and two vertical fold lines, and a small edge tear along the left border. In Excellent condition overall. Mounted and framed together with a small non-vintage photo of Reach to total dimensions of 13.75 x 22.75 inches. LOA from James Spence/JSA.  Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $5,100

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