Lot 111: Letters to Alexander Cleland from Lajoie, Speaker, Landis (2), Ford Frick (4), William Earle and More (14 total)

Sotheby's

June 5, 2007, 12:00 PM EST
New York, NY, US
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Description: The letters in this historic grouping give an intimate glimpse in how the Hall of Fame acquired its early pieces from its new members. For example, Napoleon Lajoie?s handwritten letter penned in August of 1937 informed Mr. Cleland that he was sending ?by express all the baseball equipment I could find." That cache included an incredible array of items such as ?a cap, a shirt, pants, belt, shoes and one baseball marked base hit # 3000? hit by the Frenchman in Washington D.C. in 1915. That same month, Tris Speaker promised that he would ?go through my souvenirs and see what can be found to present to the Baseball Hall of Fame.? This lot also contains other letters of import including several from Judge Landis, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball as well as Ford Frick, President of the National League. Frick was an early and ardent supporter of the Hall of Fame project. There is also material from lesser known but extremely important individuals who would donate items to baseball?s shrine. In May of 1938 Cleland received a fascinating two-page letter from a former catcher by the name of William ?Billy? Earle. Earle, born just after the end of the Civil War in 1867 read of the proposed museum while living out his remaining years in a retirement home in Nebraska. He was interested in the proposed Hall because at one time he played ball not only with the Cincinnati Red Stockings but he also battled for the Temple Cup Championship Trophy in Pittsburg in 1893 along side of another famous catcher, one of the first inductees, Connie Mack. Earle was known as ?The Little Globetrotter?, a moniker that truly fit because he did span the globe as a young man preaching the baseball gospel. Not only did he travel around the world with Albert Spalding during the famous 1889 World Tour but he also played and managed baseball in Cuba before the turn of the century. His letter informed the grateful Cleland that he would be pleased to donate the watch given to him while in Cuba. Lot includes 14 letters in all. LOAs from PSA/DNA and JSA.
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