In this case, “pre-War” means “pre-Civil War.”
A collection of original newspapers featuring baseball coverage from more than 160 years ago are part of the Collector Connection’s 7th Pre-War Only Auction. Over 900 lots are in the auction, with all items dating from no later than the early 1940s.
The newspapers date from 1857 – 1859 and include copy chronicling some of the most formative moments in the history of the game. Several papers bear accounts and even box scores of “The Great Match,” a series of three games between some of the best players in New York City and challengers from Brooklyn (at that point a separate city). These were the first games to ever charge admission, and are credited with providing a huge push towards the formation of professional baseball, an event which may have occurred even sooner if not for the start of the war.
“With over 40 issues this is a collection worthy of a museum or research library,” stated Scott Russell of The Collector Connection. “Several of the most important issues are being sold individually with the most amazing being the Sept 18 Spirit of the Times with an account and box score of the final game of the ‘Great Match’ above the fold on the cover.”
Jim Creighton, considered the first superstar of baseball, is mentioned in accounts that cover his time with all three of the teams he played for in his brief career. Creighton started as an infielder for Niagara in Brooklyn and was brought in as an emergency pitcher during the games against New York’s stars and shut them down like no pitcher had done before.
Pitching at the time then was very different than we think of it today. There were no called strikes, pitches were thrown underhand with a locked elbow and wrist to prevent the creation of breaking pitches. Somehow Creighton managed to throw fast, with movement and extreme accuracy. The Stars protested unsuccessfully, but they did win the game. They also subsequently poached him from Niagara.
Later the Stars faced the best team extant –the Excelsiors– who likewise called the legalities of his pitches into question. Eventually an impartial journalist was called in to assess whether or not Creighton was throwing illegal pitches and the verdict was that he was not. Opposing teams started taking dozens of pitches trying to wear him out. With no called strikes, at bats against Creighton became interminable and eventually, as a direct result of Creighton’s success, called strikes were implemented and pitching became the part of the game as we know it today.
The auction features a sizeable collection of tobacco, caramel and strip cards, autographs, publications and other memorabilia. There are graded near complete sets of 1933 Goudey in EX 5 and better and 1941 Play Ball in EX/MT 6 or better. The Goudey set includes Ruth #144 but is missing the other Ruth and Gehrig cards. The Play Ball set is missing the Pee Wee Reese rookie, card #1 and one common.
There are individual 1933 Goudey cards of Lou Gehrig, a 1935 Goudey Ruth, T206 cards of Cy Young, Ty Cobb and Nap Lajoie, 1941 Play Ball cards of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, a 1939 First Day Cover commemorating baseball’s centennial signed by Honus Wagner and a 1931 Chicago Cubs team signed baseball with autographs from Hack Wilson, KiKi Cuyler and 15 others.
The auction runs until Sunday November 27 at TheCollectorConnection.com with the starting bid for all lots limited to no more than $25. Russell says there are no reserve prices on any items.