Much is still unknown about the humid early July night on which Ed Delahanty met his sudden and untimely end. However, one thing is for certain, as ‘Big Ed’ tumbled down Niagara Falls the last thing on his mind was how it would affect his trading card prices in the century to come. Delahanty holds a special place among pre-war card collectors, and now 110 years after his death, his rarest and most valuable card is set to take center stage.
Issued the same year of his death, Delahanty’s E107 captures the Hall of Fame left fielder on tail end of his career. Having already posted batting averages surpassing the .400 mark thrice, he had already established himself among the game’s greatest stars. Having jumped to the upstart American League in the previous season, Del proved he still had ‘it’ when he won the batting title with an impressive .376 average.
Always a hard drinker, like so many of his era, Delahanty was kicked off a train for allegedly threatened passengers with a straight razor. While attempting to cross the International Bridge Delahanty fell to his death and was swept over Niagara Falls. Whether he drunkenly fell, committed suicide, or was thrown over has been something of a mystery as recounted in July 2, 1903: The Mysterious Death of Hall-Of-Famer Big Ed Delahanty.
When you factor in that Ed Delahanty was a colorful, hard drinking ruffian typical of 1890s society, along with his stellar performance as a batter (still good for fifth all time in batting average), and his mysterious death at an iconic location you have the perfect storm for hobby value. His N172 Old Judge, N300 Mayo, N142 Duke Cabinet, and W600 Sporting Life Cabinet all command a premium, but each of this respected hobby pieces must step aside when his E107 Breisch-Williams takes the stage. With only six graded examples, and only one of those rated higher than poor, it is easy to understand why.
One such card is featured as the coveted Lot #1 in Legendary Auctions’ current offering. As part of Chris Sullivan’s heralded collection of E107s, many collectors have waited with anticipation for the Delahanty to appear. Legendary wisely separated the key cards in the set, auctioning them months apart, so that hobby heavyweights could fill their war chests for the battle to come.
With Christy Mathewson (May 2013) and Honus Wagner (February 2013) both selling for $125,475, the time has now come for Ed Delahanty to headline the August 2013 auction.
While even the most optimistic do not expect the Delahanty offering to enter the rare air occupied by Matty and the Flying Ducthman, the $65,000 sale of a Delahanty graded SGC 10 via Huggins & Scott in October, 2007 signifies just what a tremendous price this small card of Big Ed could command.