Think baseball players didn’t crave endorsements many years ago? Even Christy Mathewson, held as almost a pious figure today, liked making money from his good name.
Matty endorsed sweaters, shirt collars, leg garters, razors, a baseball game, Coca-Cola…and tobacco, among other things.
It was his Tuxedo Tobacco endorsement that put his face on New York trolley cars more than 100 years ago. Along with his face and the image of a tin of smokeless was a quote.
“Tuxedo gets me in a natural pleasant way. It’s what I call good honest companionable tobacco, the kind to stick to.”
Ballplayers endorsed tobacco for a few decades after the sign appeared on the sides of those people movers but it still is a bit jarring today to see an open ad featuring one of the game’s great players.
Matty, his manager John McGraw and pitcher Walter Johnson all endorsed Tuxedo and were featured on signage but it’s the Mathewson that’s most desirable. One of those original signs is up for auction this weekend. The 21”x11” sign is among the featured attractions in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night event in Dallas.
Considered one of the most valuable advertising pieces in the hobby, the Mathewson Tuxedo sign usually attracts a crowd of bidders.
This example has been minimally retouched by a professional restorer “to strengthen small areas of color loss and to fill a few tiny punctures, resulting in a nearly pristine appearance,” according to the auction catalog.
The current high bid is $12,000 but is expected to move upward before the auction ends.