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1937 Letter Written to Shoeless Joe Jackson From His Former Manager Referencing Jackson's Post-Banishment Barnstorming Career and Assumed Name
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,763
Amazing two-page handwritten letter, written to "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in 1937 by one of his former managers, recalling a memorable post-banishment barnstorming game Jackson played in during the summer of 1922 under the assumed name "Josephs." After Jackson was issued a lifetime banishment from baseball by Judge Landis in 1921, he attempted to continue to earn a living the only way he could - like a ghost from the past, traveling from town to town, playing for various professional and semiprofessional clubs, usually under an assumed name. This extraordinary letter documents one such game played by Jackson while barnstorming in New Jersey. The letter, dated "12/7/37," reads in full: Dear Joe, In 'Schenley's Liquor Age' booklet, November issue, saw quite an article concerning you & your achievements in baseball. Would like to call to your mind the writer of this letter. Do you remember Abe Gildersleeve who 'imported' you for a game against the Hackensack Oritani Team in 1922? You went under the alias of - Josephs. You hit a home run that is still the talk of Bergen Co. I guess the ball is still going. My son-in-law & wife have a tavern in Paramus, I am still on the railroad. Any time you are in Jersey wish you would be our guests. If you can find the time, drop me a line or two. You know, Ex-Sheriff Mort O'Connell in every one of his campaign speeches brought in your name. So I guess you are popular in this neck of the woods. Hoping to hear from you soon, I am - An old baseball manager - Abe Gildersleeve. The letter is accompanied by the original mailing envelope, postmarked December 17, 1937, which is addressed to "Mr. Joe Jackson - West Greenville - South Carolina." Ideally, the very game referred to in Gildersleeve's letter sounds very much like the one documented by Harvey Frommer in his fine biography of Joe Jackson titled Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball (Taylor Trade Publishing, 1993). Frommer writes: "There was a game on June 22, 1922, at the oval in Hackensack, New Jersey, against Bogota. In center field for the team from Jersey was a tall and muscular newcomer, a left-handed batter playing under the name of Joseph. He came to bat and drew a line three inches out from the plate from front to back and a right-angle line at the end of the next to the catcher. He put his left foot on the imaginary line exactly three inches from the plate. He kept both feet together and took a long and graceful stride into the pitched ball. A double in his first at bat. A single in his second. Then he hammered the ball out of the park for a home run. The fans were agog at a throw he cut loose that nailed a runner at home attempting to score from second base. Hackensack won the game, but its victory was short-lived. The game was declared a forfeit when it was discovered that Joseph was Shoeless Joe Jackson, come North to pick up a payday." While Jackson's post-banishment barnstorming days are well documented by historians, actual firsthand accounts of his games are virtually nonexistent, making this an exceptional and extremely historically significant piece of correspondence relating to the legendary career of Shoeless Joe. When the Jackson family correspondence surfaced many years ago, comprised primarily of letters from fans, very few letters of significance were included. This was one of the few and one of the best. The text and Gildersleeve's signature have been scripted in black fountain pen and grade "9/10" overall. Each page of the letter (5.25 x 7 inches) displays one vertical and two horizontal folds. There are areas of paper separation along the horizontal folds on each page; otherwise the letter is in Excellent condition. The envelope (5.25 x 3.5 inches) is lightly soiled and displays paper residue on the reverse from having once been mounted in an album; Vg-Ex. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,763
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