That old pitcher once presented to early baseball great Ed Delahanty we first told you about earlier this year is now for sale.
The originally gifted trophy to the superstar player had been in possession of the elderly son of the man Delahanty sold it to more than a century ago before being passed on to a family member following his death in February. South Carolina dealer Rick Snyder, owner of MINT State, is offering the pitcher on consignment—for $1 million. Snyder’s company recently orchestrated the multi-million dollar sale of several rare T206 Ty Cobb cards that had been found in an old home in the Southeast.
“The King of Swat”
The history of the pitcher involves one of the early 20th century’s most talented, yet tragic players. Delahanty was among the premier stars of the 1890s. Ranking fifth all-time with a .346 career batting average, Delahanty hit .400 or better in a record-tying three seasons, and led the league in slugging percentage four times. A five-tool player long before the term came into use, “Big Ed” was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.
At the dawn of the 20th century, Philadelphia Phillies star had received the pitcher as a gift from William E. Grady, a businessman and die-hard fan. Engraved on the front is the phrase: “Presented by Wm. E. Grady to Ed Delahanty 1900.” Grady was a Philadelphia saloon keeper who, according to news accounts of the time, annually presented such a pitcher to the Phillies’ leading home run hitter.
Apparently in need of cash not long afterward, the mercurial Delahanty sold the pitcher and several other items to a banker named John Bauder who passed it on to his son John Jr. prior to his death decades later.
Delahanty was addicted to alcohol and gambling, and became as well-known for his binge drinking and visits to the horse track as he was for his abilities on the field. When Delahanty got too far in debt, he begged his teammates for money and threatened to kill himself if they didn’t help out. Broke and apparently despondent, he boarded a train in Detroit, bound for New York, on July 2, 1903. Becoming a nuisance by smoking, drinking heavily, threatening riders with a razor, and damaging the train’s emergency tool cabinet, Delahanty was kicked off the train in Ontario, Canada.
Since the train had crossed the International Railway Bridge, Delahanty decided to walk across the 3,600-foot span toward Buffalo, New York. Approached by night watchman Sam Kingston, who was on patrol looking for smugglers, Delahanty argued and then began running toward the American side,either jumping or stumbling over the side,falling 25 feet into the river. His body was found 20 miles downstream at the base of the Horseshoe Falls by passengers riding the “Maid of the Mist” boat. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery in his hometown of Cleveland. It remains unclear if Delahanty died accidentally or committed suicide. His story has been the subject of a couple of books.
In failing health about six months ago, the John Bauder Jr., age 100, told his niece Sandy Bauder and her boyfriend, Rick Marino, about the pitcher and its ties to Delahanty. Bauder was a fun-loving character but rarely let anyone into his home. He had displayed the unique old artifact on his mantle for decades, but the engraved inscription that tied it to a Delahanty’s prowess was always facing backwards.