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1958-1961 William Shea and Jack Murphy Signed Letters Relating to Baseball Expansion in New York and San Diego
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $360
Two letters written by the men most responsible for bringing major league expansion teams to their respective cities in the 1960s: William Shea (New York City) and Jack Murphy (San Diego). Ideally, both letters deal specifically with the idea of baseball expansion, years before either New York or San Diego eventually acquired a new team.
1) William Shea. One-page typed-signed letter, dated March 3, 1958, on Manning, Hollinger & Shea letterhead, concerning the possibility of New York getting a National League team to replace the Dodgers and Giants. In his letter, written to a Mr. Arthur Macosky, Shea explains the difficulties the city faces in acquiring a new team. In part: "Your recent letter addressed to Hon. Robert F. Wagner has been referred to me. I want you to know that the Committee has received every cooperation from the City in connection with the possibilities of bringing a new ball club to New York. However, unless one of the existing franchises are willing to move to New York, we will have to wait until the National League moves to expand. . . . Under the existing circumstances, I think it will be impossible for the City to build a stadium outside its debt structure without a National League franchise owner becoming one of its tenants." It is signed "W. A. Shea" in blue ink (grading "10"). In 1958 William Shea was appointed by New York City mayor Robert Wagner to chair a special committee formed to bring a National League franchise back to the city. Given the problems cited here, Shea pursued starting a third major league, called the Continental League, that would have a franchise based in the New York City. The Continental League, which had the support of Branch Rickey, was actually set to begin play in 1961, but plans were halted when the other major league owners gave in and agreed to two new expansion teams in both leagues, one of which was the New York Mets. For Shea's efforts, the Mets' new stadium was named Shea Stadium in his honor. The letter (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds, staple holes, and paper residue on the reverse from having once been mounted in an album. In Very Good to Excellent condition.
2) Jack Murphy. One-page typed-signed letter, dated October 30, 1961, on The San Diego Union letterhead, concerning the possibility of an American League franchise settling in San Diego. In his letter, Murphy writes to American League president Joe Cronin and urges him to consider San Diego for a new American League expansion team. In part: "Dear Joe, In view of the American League's need for another franchise on the west coast, I thought you might be interested in reading about how pro football is catching on here. Most of our fans have to ride the buses to the games because of a bad parking situation, but they're doing a good job of refuting the slander that San Diego is a 'nickel' town. I expect we'll have capacity crowds (34,500) for our four remaining games. . . . This is a terrific area, Joe. Please give us careful consideration in the event of a franchise switch or further expansion. Come to see us at the first opportunity. The weather is fine and the golf courses splendid." It is signed by "Jack Murphy" in blue ink ("9"). Murphy was one of San Diego's most prominent sports columnists and he was instrumental in persuading the Chargers football team to move from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1961. He had to work a little bit harder with major league baseball, but he later successfully helped the city acquire the National League expansion San Diego Padres in 1969. Following Murphy's death in 1980, the city renamed its stadium San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium in his honor. The letter (5.5 x 8.5 inches) displays a vertical fold and a paperclip impression along the top border. In Excellent condition overall. Total: 2 letters. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $200. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $360
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