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1927 New York Giants "McGraw Silver Jubilee" Program Signed by Joe McGinnity, Mickey Welch, and Amos Rusie!
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $9,600
1927 New York Giants program signed by Hall of Famers Joe McGinnity, Mickey Welch, Amos Rusie, and five other former New York Giants players, together with a letter of provenance from the consignor and corroborating documentation from period newspaper articles.
On July 19, 1927, the New York Giants celebrated John McGraw’s 25th anniversary as manager of the club by honoring him with a special ceremony at the Polo Grounds prior to the regularly scheduled game against the Cubs. As documented in numerous period newspaper accounts, many of McGraw’s former players, as well as a number of Giants “old timers,” were in attendance that day, all of whom were seated in special box seats near the Giants’ dugout. Offered here is a rare original program from that day that has been signed in black fountain pen on the Giants’ interior scorecard page by the following eight former New York Giants players: “J. J. McGinnity,” “Mickey Welch,” “Amos Rusie,” “Billy Gilbert,” “George Gore,” “H. J. Thielman,” “Lew Wendell,” and “Jack Warner.” All of the signatures are fairly uniform in grade, averaging “7/8.”
This is an extraordinary signed item! McGinnity, Welch, and Rusie represent three of the rarest Hall of Fame signatures in the hobby and the fact that they are featured together within this single program makes it one of the most remarkable autographed pieces we have ever encountered. Signature rarity is normally predicated on any number of factors, but in the case of each of these three players it is largely a result of each player having died long before he was elected to the Hall of Fame (McGinnity died in 1929 and was elected in 1946; Welch died in 1941 and was elected in 1973; and Rusie died in 1942 and was elected in 1977). Although it is impossible to state exactly how many signature examples exist for McGinnity, Welch, and Rusie, the total for each, based upon the auction records of the past twenty-five years, is probably fewer than ten. It should be noted that REA has only offered one other signature example each for McGinnity and Rusie (and no Welch signature examples) during the past twenty years! Even the five non-Hall of Fame signatures on the program are extreme rarities, some of special note: Billy Gilbert passed away in August 1927, making his signature particularly rare. Jack Warner, whose career spanned the years from 1895 to 1908, passed away in 1943. Prominent nineteenth-century star George Gore, who many have long believed to be deserving of consideration for Hall of Fame election, passed away in 1933.
This program has been a keepsake of our consignor's family since 1927, and is accompanied by a letter of provenance from our consignor detailing its history, as well as a copy of a period newspaper article that references attendance at the game for six of the eight signers, including McGinnity, Rusie, and Welch. The letter reads in part:
My great-grandfather Gus . . . . was born in Austria in 1868 and came to the United States in 1883. I’m not certain at what time he became a serious baseball fan, but he took my father to hundreds of games at the Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field and Yankee Stadium between the late 1930’s and early 1950’s. He was my father’s best childhood friend. Gus . . . . died in 1954, not long after having watched his favorite team, the New York Giants, win the World Series on a television near his hospital bed. When his daughter, my father’s mother, was institutionalized due to very poor health, my family’s home became the new storage site for all family heirlooms . . . . —about a dozen boxes containing photo albums, family paperwork, silver and china, etc. This was about 1987. It was a couple years later that my father and I looked through the boxes of stuff, and it was then we found a small collection of baseball programs, most deriving from the World Series games my father and great-grandfather attended together. There was only one regular season scorecard, and when we opened it up, it was clear why it had been saved. My suspicion is that my great-grandfather attended John McGraw Day to see the old timers he had watched as a young man and to get their autographs, because there were no other autographs in his belongings.... I can state with complete assurance that the program has been in my family’s possession since 1927, and was almost certainly untouched between that year and its rediscovery in the late 1980’s...
The program is accompanied by a copy of an article published in the July 20, 1927, edition of the Lowell Sun that provides a partial list of the former players in attendance at McGraw’s 25th Anniversary celebration (including six of the eight players who signed here; from this article we learn that Dan Brouthers was in attendance also, but unfortunately did not sign). In part: “Stars of other years came back to help acclaim the man who took charge of the Giants when they and their National League clubs were tottering. ‘Ironman’ Joe McGinnity was there. Amos Rusie looked on. Billy Gilbert, Dan Brouthers, George Gore, Mickey Welch, Jack Warner, and Joe Hornung applauded as McGraw was presented with a huge trophy. Hughie Jennings was sighted in the stands and was led out to the field by Joe Humphries, announcer.” Also accompanied by a copy of an additional article that appeared in the July 20, 1927, edition of the New York Times. While not mentioning the former players by name, the New York Times article makes note of their presence in a special box behind the Giants’ dugout. In part: “One of the interesting sights of the afternoon was a detachment of McGraw’s old-time stars who turned out for the jubilee. They sat in a box near the Giants and McGraw was not so busy shaking hands with heroes and celebrities that he could not spare a few minutes to come out and greet his former players with a smile or a handshake.”
The eight-page program (6.5 x 10 inches), which is dated “1927” on the cover, features the preprinted lineups for the Giants and Cubs on the interior scorecard sections. Included are Lindstrom, Roush, Hornsby, Terry, Jackson, and Grimes for the Giants, and Wilson, Hartnett, Stephenson, and Grimm for Chicago. Not scored. Partial separation for both the covers and pages is noted along the base of the spine (below the first staple) and there is a moderate diagonal crease on the back cover in the lower left. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. Full LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open).
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