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Lot # 1379 (1379 of 1911)   « Previous Lot | Next Lot »

1971 "Turkey" Stearnes Handwritten Letter

Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $2,700

Two-page handwritten letter, dated "Detroit Michigan 3-2-71," signed by Negro League Hall of Fame outfielder Norman "Turkey" Stearnes. In his letter, addressed simply to "Dear Sir," Stearnes laments the fact that he no longer has any photos of himself from his playing days. In part: "My wife stole all of my yearly playing days photo and everything and misplace them years ago which I haven't ever been able to find. I have also grown up girls now and they have been trying to find out some one who had a photo of their dad but I couldn't tell them." The letter is signed "Norman Turkey Stearnes." Both the text and signature have been scripted in blue ink and grade "10." Stearnes began his career with the Detroit Stars in 1923 and later played with both the Chicago American Giants and Kansas City Monarchs. Stearnes was considered one of the greatest hitters of his era and Satchel Paige later commented that Stearnes “was as good as anybody who ever played ball.” The numbers seem to back Paige up. Stearnes batted over .300 in thirteen of his nineteen seasons and is unofficially credited with 140 home runs in 585 games. During the 1980s and 1990s many former Negro League players openly expressed their disbelief that Stearnes was not in the Hall of Fame. In 2000 his time finally came and his plaque now rightfully hangs in Cooperstown’s hallowed halls. Stearnes’ signature is particularly rare today due to the fact that he passed away in 1979, long before his induction and just prior to the period when baseball memorabilia began to grow as an industry. This is the only Turkey Stearnes letter we have ever seen and just the third Turkey Stearnes signature example we have offered. Each page of the letter (5 x 8 inches) displays a paperclip impression and is in Excellent condition overall. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA.

Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,700

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