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1939 Historical Invention of the Catcher's Mitt Letter
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $1,840.00
Extraordinary letter written in 1939 by early big league catcher and inventor of the catcher's mitt, Joseph B. Gunson, discussing his invention. The two-page handwritten letter has incredible content pertaining to his invention of the catcher's mitt, and how he did not patent it correctly which led to others taking credit for his creation. The letter reads in part: "When the glove proved to me that the punishment we had endured at the then 50-foot pitching distance and they threw there just as fast since 1884 as they do today. I began to leave other catchers to try it...the first one to try it was Thomas E. Nagle catcher for the Omaha Club in the Western League and while he was using it I sat on the bench with his pitcher Ted Kennedy and foolishly explained to him in full the exact making of it. And behold early in the winter of 1889 I received a letter at home in Phila- from Mr. Kennedy containing a blue print of my own catchers mitt. A poor imitation of the real thing. He was supposed to have patented the wire protective mitt and not the mitt proper. Then catcher Decker of Chicago club sensed his mistake and began to make them without the wire. Then everybody began to make them and I am satisfied that no one made much out of it. I never cared much about losing the patent on it. But of course I felt as though I deserve full credit for the invention. I have been credited in the press for 25 years. Such papers as the St. Louis Sporting News...I have the names, addresses and affidavits of 6 living witnesses who pitched to, or caught with the mitt during the season of 1888. Among them Kid Charles Nichols one of the greatest pitchers...Yours Respectfully Joseph B. Gunson...P.S. Forgot to tell you he wanted to sell me one of my own make gloves for $10.00." Gunson played for five different major league teams in the 1880s and appears in the N172 Old Judge set with his glove. Also of note, the letter is addressed to Mr. E.A. Parichy. Parichy established the Forrest Park Baseball Museum, the first baseball museum in America, in 1934, and was an early proponent of the establishment of the Hall of Fame. He was responsible for producing the popular set of colorful Hall of Fame stamps and accompanying history of baseball booklet (in which the stamps were to be placed) in 1939. This letter was written in response to an inquiry by Parichy while researching this project. Aside from a staple hole in the upper left corner from being attached, mailing folds, and a staple rust mark on the back of page two, this two-page letter is in Nr/Mt condition. This is an extraordinary letter of tremendous historical significance. LOAs from Mike Gutierrez/GAI and James Spence & Steve Grad/PSA DNA and Kevin Keating/QAMV. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000. SOLD FOR $1,840.00
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