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1968 Willie Wells Handwritten Letter - "I Never Want the People to Say the Great Willie Wells Turned Out to be a Bum"
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $540
Three-page handwritten letter (on two separate sheets), dated March 11, 1968, signed by Hall of Fame Negro League shortstop Willie Wells. In his letter, written to his mother, Wells relates the hardships he has been going through while living alone in New York, estranged from is family. In part:
My Darling Mother. . . . It was so good to hear your voice it made me feel so good because I love you very much. . . . I feel so sorry Ida. I wanted do nothing to ever hurt her. She try to hurt me in every way you please believe me she tried to put me in jail God know I am clear of any wrong she told all my friends I took money from her but nobody believed her then told them I tried to put her out. . . . I had a letter from Willie Jr. he said brother Joe took him home from work but he won't write me. You are all I got so be sweet and pray for me. . . . the only time I have a drink is on the weekend because I never want to hurt my name by having people say the Great Willie Wells turned out to be a bum. . . . Tell all I said hello. Your son, Willie.
Both the text and signature are scripted in blue ink and grade "10." Even though the letter is signed "Willie," his full-name signature appears in a most ideal manner in the body of the text. Willie Wells is generally considered to be one of the four greatest shortstops in Negro League history. An exceptional hitter as well as a defensive standout, Wells is credited with a career average of .334, and his 27 home runs (in only 88 games) in 1927 stands as the single-season Negro League home-run record. Wells also compiled a .392 average in exhibition games against white Major Leaguers. After retiring from baseball, Wells lived in New York City for many years before returning to Austin, Texas, to take care of his ailing mother. He passed away in 1989 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. The letter (5.75 x 7 inches) displays light toning, four horizontal mailing folds, and a few tiny edge tears. In Very Good to Excellent condition. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $200. Estimate $500+. SOLD FOR $540
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