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Two Significant 1885 National League Archive Letters Including Cleveland Resignation
Starting Bid - $400.00, Sold For - $5,220.00
Offered are two extraordinarily significant and related handwritten letters, dating from 1885, to Nicholas Young, president and secretary of the National League. Although both letters hold special significance with regard to the early history of the Cleveland Base Ball Association, it is the first that is the most important, as it formally documents its resignation from the league. The second, a three-page letter (written on three sides of two sheets) deals not only with the addition of the St. Louis Athletic Association to replace Cleveland, but also makes note of the recent National Agreement peace settlement with the American Association and the league's policy with regard to the contracts of the former Cleveland players. 1) The earlier letter, dated January 3, 1885, is written to Young by C. H. Bulkley, President of the Cleveland Base Ball Association. This extraordinarily significant letter boldly and formally announces the club's resignation from the league. Scripted in black fountain pen upon a single sheet of official club stationery, Bulkley writes in full: "N. E. Young Esq - Pres't & Secy Nat. League - Dear Sir, The Cleveland Base Ball Association hereby resigns its membership in the National League, C. H. Bulkley." Cleveland joined the National League in 1879. In 1887, two years after their resignation, Major League baseball returned to Cleveland (under different ownership) with its entry in the American Association. That AA ball club later transferred to the National League in 1889 before folding after the following season. 2) The second letter, dated January 29, 1885 and penned in black fountain pen on official Boston Base Ball Association letterhead, is written by Boston team president Arthur Soden, a former National League President himself. In his long missive, Soden, in his capacity as head of a special "ad hoc" committee, brings Young up to date on important league matters. He writes in full: "N. E. Young Esq. Secty Nat. League - Mr. J. B. Day was appointed Sect'y of the joint meeting of the special committees of the League and Am. Ass'n and will send you an account of their doings. The special committee appointed by the League to fill vacancy in League membership [Cleveland] has unanimously elected the St. Louis Athletic Association to membership in the League. The Am. Association having concurred in the amendment of Nat. Agreement giving the League authority to locate a club in said city of St. Louis. The special committee appointed by the League to consider the matter of the engagement of the Cleveland players by the Brooklyn club would report that they have discussed the situation with the Am Ass'n committee and come to an understanding in regard to said contracts - and you are authorized by our committee to promulgate notice of said contracts in the regular way - without qualification. Yours Truly A. H. Soden - For Special Committee." Soden has then added two long postscripts (signing his name once again at the end of the first one), with the first reading: "Dear Nick - Mr. Byrne desired me to write you that he deplored very much the Muro-Japer statements that he was about to accuse you of unwarranted action in delaying notices - and disdained any such intention or of giving an authority for such newspaper statements. Byrne was very profuse in expressing of regrets - and desires me to express to you his entire confidence, respect and esteem. The League comes out of this contest - as usual 'on top,' and it looks like plain sailing." His second postscript reads "I suppose this East Assn should vote on the amendment to Nat. Agreement to have the matter formally settled." John B. Day, mentioned in the first paragraph of his letter, was owner of both the New York Giants of the National League and the New York Metropolitans of the American Association. Mr. Byrne, mentioned in the postscript, was owner of the American Association's Brooklyn franchise from 1884 to 1889. In 1890, Byrne moved his club from the AA to the National League. It is interesting that Bulkley addresses Young as president and secretary of the National League, while Soden, addresses him as secretary. Young was the League's long-standing secretary but also assumed the duties of President late in 1884 following the resignation of A. G. Mills. It was Mills who had negotiated the important National Agreement that is often referred to by Soden. That agreement, which ended the nearly two-year "war" between the rival major leagues, is important as it essentially created baseball's infamous "reserve clause," a provision that would remain the focal point of player resentment for nearly 100 years. This important letter clearly shows that the two leagues (i.e., the owners) had indeed made peace, and with terms that would serve the owners well for generations to come at the expense of the players' interests, as evidenced by the mutual agreement with regard to the contracts of the Cleveland players. The text and signature on the first letter, signed by Bulkley, both grade "10." The letter (6 x 9.5 inches) displays one vertical and three horizontal mailing folds as well as staple holes at the top. Excellent condition overall. The second letter (7.75 x 9.75 inches), signed by Soden ("8/9"), displays two horizontal and vertical mailing folds and is also in Excellent condition. Total: 2 letters. LOAs from James Spence/JSA and Steve Grad, Mike Gutierrez & Zach Rullo/PSA DNA. Reserve $400. Estimate $800+ SOLD FOR $5,220.00
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