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Willie Wells Signed Photo
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $420
Black-and-white photo signed by Hall of Fame shortstop and former Negro League star Willie Wells. The photograph, which pictures him during the twilight of his career as player/manager of the Winnipeg Buffaloes of the Western Canadian League (circa 1952), is beautifully inscribed in blue ink (grading "9/10"): "Best Wishes Willie Wells Sr.” Wells signed photos are extremely rare. This is in large part because he passed away in 1989, but was not elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee until 1997. Almost all signed Wells photos, including this example, originate from a single signing of a modest number of identical photographs arranged long ago by a dedicated collector of Negro League signatures. Wells was the first shortstop in baseball history to combine dazzling fielding with home-run power. He set a single-season Negro Leagues record with 27 homers in 88 games for the St. Louis Stars in 1926. Willie Wells is also recognized as one of the first professional ballplayers ever to wear a batting helmet, when he fashioned a hard hat for protection after a 1942 beaning incident. As player-manager of the Newark Eagles in the 1940s, Wells developed into an extraordinary leader and teacher, and several of his young players later became stars in the Majors, including Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, and Don Newcombe. The non-vintage photographic print (5 x 7 inches), on heavy photo stock, displays only light border wear and remains in Excellent to Mint condition. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA.
Reserve $200. Estimate $500+. SOLD FOR $420
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