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Lot # 776 (of 1512)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Fred Goldsmith Inscribed Index Card - Staking Rightful Claim as Inventor of the Curveball!

Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $600

Unlined index card signed by Fred Goldsmith, the first player to publicly demonstrate a curveball. Encapsulated by PSA/DNA, with the signature graded "MINT 9." This signed index card is of extraordinary historical significance with reference to the invention of the curveball. Although Goldsmith's signature in any form is extremely rare (he died in 1939 at the age of eighty-two), this card is as important to historians as it is to autograph collectors due to the fact that Goldsmith, in addition to signing the page, has also clearly, in his own hand, staked his claim as the rightful inventor of the curveball. Like many aspects of baseball, including its origins, the invention of the curveball has long been the subject of great controversy. From the earliest days in which the issue was even considered by scholars, dating back to the turn of the century and before, two candidates vied for this honor among historians of the game: Fred Goldsmith and Candy Cummings.

In his inscription here, which occupies the entire card Goldsmith writes: "Fred E. Goldsmith. Winner of five Worlds Championships. Demonstrated first curve ball on Capotelene [sic] grounds N. Y. Aug 27th 1870. Formerly with Chicago White Stockings. Am now 81 years of age. Sincerely Yours." Both the signature and text are scripted in green fountain pen. To the day he died, Fred Goldsmith always strongly maintained that he, not Candy Cummings, invented the curveball. Despite the fact that most books today credit Cummings with having been the originator of the curveball, Goldsmith's claim had great merit. He had many supporters who shared his view. In fact, the one fact that is universally agreed upon is that Goldsmith was the first player to publicly demonstrate the curveball. As he notes here, that event took place on the Capitoline Grounds in New York in 1870. His later mastery of the pitch made him one of the top pitchers in the game during the 1880s. Goldsmith won twenty or more games in four consecutive seasons with the Chicago White Stockings and in 1880 his winning percentage of .875 was the best in the National League. Ironically, in 1939, the year in which Goldsmith died, Candy Cummings was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame primarily on the basis of his having invented the curveball. Based upon Goldsmith's reference to his age, we know that he inscribed this card in 1938, the last year of his life. It is interesting to note that Goldsmith's recollection of specific dates appeared to be faltering. According to all published reports, his demonstration on the Capitoline Grounds took place on August 16, 1870, not August 27th as he states. Famed baseball writer Henry Chadwick was in attendance that day and his observations of Goldsmith's new pitch were published in the Brooklyn Eagle on August 17, 1870. The card (4.75 x 2.75 inches) is lightly toned and is otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $600

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