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Rare Nineteenth-Century Baseball Autographs from the John O'Meara Collection
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,293
This group of letters and documents, all of which originate from the legendary John O'Meara collection, is highlighted by an exceedingly rare handwritten letter from Charles Bassett, who was a member of the 1884 Providence Grays, the first World Series champions in history. Also included here are a brief handwritten note and separate signature example from George Gore, a standout nineteenth-century player and former batting champion. The remaining items in this collection include a handwritten Joe McCarthy letter and correspondence from both the wives and daughters of former ballplayers. Dr. John O'Meara, a former resident of Providence, Rhode Island, was an early hobby pioneer in the field of autograph collecting who was active in the 1930s. During that decade he managed to obtain signature examples not only from many of the game's greatest players, but also from numerous nineteenth-century players, many of which are exceedingly rare today. (It should be noted that both the Ed Hanlon letter featured in this auction, as well as a remarkable autograph album featured as lot 958 in our May 2009 auction, also originate from O'Meara's fabled collection.) All of the correspondence in the offered collection is addressed to O'Meara, most of which is accompanied by its original mailing envelopes. 1) 1936 Charles Bassett handwritten letter. The two-page letter (written on both sides of a single unlined sheet) is dated June 14, 1936, and features baseball content. The majority of the letter concerns Bassett's belated procurement of a lifetime Major League pass. In part: "I received a letter from Wm E. Brandt Mgr of the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs of 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York. Stating through Mr. Joe McGlove he discovered that he had failed to include me on the list of former major league players receiving lifetime passes, he was sorry that this occurred and will put through the order for my pass to be engraved with my name and sent to me as soon as possible. He hoped the delay in receiving it would not detract from my enjoyment of its possession or from the honor attached to it as a memento of my days on the ballfield." It is signed "Chas E. Bassett." Both the text and signature are scripted in blue ink and grade "10." Charles Bassett, who was a graduate of Brown, made his Major League debut with the Providence Grays in 1884. His timing could not have been more perfect, as Providence participated that fall in the first World Series, against the New York Metropolitans, champions of the American Association. Led by the dominant pitching performance of Hall of Famer "Hoss" Radbourn, the Grays easily swept the Mets in three games to become the first "World Champions" in baseball history. Bassett, who played sparingly that year with Providence, enjoyed a respectable nine-year career that saw him start (primarily at second base) for a number of clubs. He retired in 1892 with a .231 lifetime average and passed away in 1942. The letter (4.75 x 7.5) displays a horizontal mailing fold. Ex-Mt; together with its original mailing envelope (Vg). Also accompanied by a circa 1930 team photograph print of the 1884 Providence Grays (6.5 x 4.5 inches; Vg). 2-3) George Gore handwritten letter and cut signature example. The one-page letter (5 x 3.75 inches), dated June 17, 1933, and written in black fountain pen, reads "Dear Dr. I will gladly autograph your album for you. Address to Masonic Home, Utica N.Y. - George F. Gore." Signature grades "7." (Note: This letter no doubt refers to the very autograph album sold in the May 2009 REA auction that was once owned by O'Meara and which was, indeed, signed by George Gore.) The additional cut signature example, penned in blue fountain pen (grading "7/8") is affixed to a second one-page letter, dated September 23, 1933, from Gore's wife (with original mailing envelope). This letter dates just one week after Gore's death on September 16, 1933. George Gore was one of the National League's top hitters throughout his fourteen-year career (1879-1892). A former National League batting champion in 1890 (.360), Gore batted over .300 on eight separate occasions and finished his career with a .308 lifetime average. He also set the Major League record of seven stolen bases in one game in 1881. Both the letter and cut are Ex-Mt. 3-9) Collection of seven correspondence items to O'Meara; comprised of letters, envelopes, and a hotel telephone message slip. Includes a brief Joe McCarthy handwritten letter (on the back of a letter O'Meara sent to him; signature grades "7"); a letter from Mrs. John McGraw (on the back of a letter O'Meara had sent her, dated September 17, 1933); a hotel telephone-message slip (dated April 28, 1933) relaying a brief message from Connie Mack; and a signature, on the back of a portion of a letter, from a player whose last name appears to be Vengez (no such player listed in the Major League records). Excellent to Mint condition overall. Also included here are three cut newspaper clippings relating to O'Meara. Total: Nine items. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,293
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