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Chief Bender and Ed Walsh Handwritten Letters with Baseball Content
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $1,320
Pair of one-page handwritten letters from two of the greatest pitchers of the dead-ball era: Chief Bender and Ed Walsh.
1) Chief Bender. One-page handwritten letter, dated January 6, 1924, scripted in blue fountain pen on an unlined index card. In his brief missive, Bender responds to a soldier who is obviously a Philadelphia Athletics fan. In full: "My dear West, Am glad to know that you are one of thousands of admirers of Connie Mack. He commands the respect of many. Good luck to you in the army / Sincerely 'Chief' C A Bender." Both the text and signature are flawlessly rendered and grade "10." Bender, whose major league career ended after the 1917 season, was still playing professionally in 1924 as a member of the New Haven Profs, a class A minor-league team in the Eastern League (he finished the season with a 6-4 record). One of the finest pitchers of his era, Bender won 212 games, against only 127 losses in this sixteen-year major league career. Perhaps the greatest testament to his pitching ability was that offered by A's manager Connie Mack, who chose Bender, over eventual 300-game-winner Eddie Plank, as his Game 1 starter in each of the club's four World Series appearances between the years 1910 and 1914. Bender was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953, just one year prior to his passing. For that reason, his signature remains very scarce today. This letter is featured in the book Baseball's Golden Half-Century by Ken Willey (Glenleaf Publishing, 2007). The card (5 x 3 inches) is lightly toned and has a tiny ink notation on the reverse; otherwise it is in Near Mint condition.
2) Ed Walsh. One-page handwritten letter, undated, scripted in blue ink on an unlined index card. In his letter, Walsh writes to a young fan and laments that they never should have outlawed the spitball. In full: “Well, Son - they have every thing else in the Pitcher Box. They should of never taken the Spit Ball out of the game. Thanks for you nice letter. Ed A Walsh” Both the text and signature grade "10." It's no surprise that Walsh would be partial to having the spitball legalized again, as it was the pitch responsible for his success in the majors. "Big Ed" Walsh was one of the dominant pitchers of his era and one of only two modern-day players to record 40 or more wins in a season (Walsh won 40 games with the White Sox in 1908; Jack Chesbro won 41 in 1904). Although Walsh played fourteen seasons (thirteen of which were spent with the Chicago White Sox), 168 of his 195 wins came in a span of just seven years (1906-1912). During that short period of brilliance, Walsh led the American League in ERA twice and his lifetime ERA of 1.86 remains the lowest on record. Remarkably, Walsh wasn't inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame until 1946. Because Walsh was inducted into the Hall of Fame late in life, shortly before his death (1959), Ed Walsh signatures, and handwritten letters in particular, remain scarce. The card, which has been trimmed to its current dimensions (4 x 2.75 inches), is lightly toned and Walsh's name is written on the reverse in pencil; otherwise it is in Near Mint condition. Total: 2 handwritten letter. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,320
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