Significant pieces of history from the 1940s and the 19th century will highlight Love of the Game Auctions’ 2018 Fall Premier Auction.
Bidding is already open and will run through Nov. 24.
The highlight for the internet-based sports auction house will be a Heilbroner Baseball Bureau information card completed in 1946 by Jackie Robinson.
Louis Heilbroner managed the last 50 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1900 and then served as the team’s business manager through 1908. In 1909 he founded Heilbroner’s Baseball Bureau, which was the first commercial statistical bureau dedicated to baseball.
Heilbroner also published the Baseball Blue Book, a guide that targeted people who were insiders to the game. When a player began his first year of professional baseball, he received an index card with his name typed at the top. Players would fill out a small questionnaire, giving vital statistics and biographical information. The staff at Heilbroner then would update the card every year with current team information.
The Robinson card is arguably the first document written in Robinson’s hand after breaking the color barrier and chronicles his tenure with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues to the Montreal Royals of the International League. Finally, it shows Robinson’s promotion to the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, when he broke the modern baseball color line.
The auction will also include at least 10 items that have to do with Harry Stovey, a 19th century outfielder-first baseman who played 14 seasons between 1880 and 1893. Stovey played in three different leagues — the National League, the American Association and the Players League — and carved out a career .288 average with the Worcester Ruby Legs, Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Reds, Boston Beaneaters, Baltimore Orioles and Brooklyn Bridegrooms.
One of the Stovey items in the auction is an 1887 award badge presented to the player by his Philadelphia teammates after he stole 74 bases and scored 125 runs. Some of the other pieces of memorabilia include the silver lifetime baseball pass he received in 1936, a year before his death; a pendant for winning the home run title in 1883 (he connected for 14 round-trippers); an 1880s Gilbert & Bacon cabinet card, where it appears Stovey is making an obscene gesture like one seen in an 1887 N172 Old Judge card of Charles “Hoss” Radbourn (Actually, the pose is almost identical to the one used by Billy Martin on his 1972 Topps card); Stovey’s invitation to the Boston Doves’ 1907 National League opening game; and even a handwritten letter from Connie Mack to one of Stovey’s relatives in 1937, expressing his condolences over the former player’s death.
Other auction items include several 1895 Mayo’s Cut Plug Hall of Famers, including some highly graded cards from the set. Some of the stars featured in these cards include Cap Anson, Dan Brouthers, Ed Delahanty, Buck Ewing, Amos Rusie and John Montgomery Ward.
“As we were putting this auction together, I was astonished at the number of items we were featuring that I’d never seen before,” Love of the Game auction director Al Crisafulli said. “It seems that with each auction, our offerings become more and more interesting. This time around, we’ve got the Harry Stovey material, a huge assortment of T206 printing errors, and the largest selection of 19th century cards that we’ve ever offered.”
Speaking of Delahanty, one item in the auction is the court appeal booklet from the lawsuit filed by the former star’s widow in 1904. The family won the lawsuit against the Michigan Central Railroad and was awarded $5,000.
The auction also includes photographs snapped by famed baseball photographer Charles Conlon, including shots of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Christy Mathewson, Nap Lajoie, Frank Frisch, Walter Johnson, Eddie Plank and Charlie Gehringer among the more prominent subjects. There is also a large framed team photo of the 1920 World Series champion Cleveland Indians taken by Louis Van Oeyen.
And from 1967 there is a Roberto Clemente Pro-Model bat that is graded GU 8 by PSA/DNA and was given to the consignor’s father as gift by the late Pirates great.
Wrestling fans will enjoy the items for sale from the estate of Robin Reed, a lightweight amateur who excelled during the 1920s. Reed won a gold medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, coached Oregon State to its first team wrestling title in 1926, and never lost a match during his career.
“It’s like a tall tale, like Paul Bunyan, except it’s real,” Crisafulli said. “In 1924, Reed entered the Olympic trials in every weight class from 135 pounds to 192 pounds and pinned every opponent.
“On the boat to France, he pinned every member of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team except the heavyweight, Harry Steel. He beat Steel, he just didn’t pin him. So, when they got to France, he bet Steel he could pin him there. Steel agreed, and then Reed pinned him five times in 15 minutes.”
Steel would win the Olympic gold medal in the heavyweight division, while Reed took gold at 134.5 pounds.
Another interesting rarity is a 1910 Reach Company tin lithographic advertising sign, which was used as a sales aid for sporting goods retailers.
To register for the auction and review the items for sale online, visit http://www.loveofthegameauctions.com.