Think players are conflicted by autograph hounds today? It’s nothing new.
“If you don’t talk to people, sign autographs and do what you can to accommodate them, they get sore at you,” said Dizzy Dean to baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis in April of 1935. Sometimes, though, it was just part of the deal. And Diz was always ready to make a deal.
One of his paid gigs was a pre-spring training stop at the Roy Doan Baseball School in Hot Springs, AR where dozens of young baseball players from all over the country gathered to receive instruction from current and former big leaguers. Whether or not they had pro potential, we know that each camper received a signed baseball. Evidence of that comes in the form of the RMY Auctions Photo of the Day, an original image taken 83 years ago this month.
The 7 1/2 x 9 ¾”-inch photo shows Dizzy and his brother Paul, aces for the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, signing a mountain of baseballs for the campers. Doan, who operated the school from 1933-1938, is shown standing behind Paul, who lived in Hot Springs for a time. The brothers had grown up in Arkansas.
The Deans were among numerous players who appeared at the camp over the years. Other instructors included Cy Young, Kid Elberfeld, Tris Speaker, George Sisler, Rogers Hornsby, Grover Cleveland Alexander and Burleigh Grimes, who may or may not have told the young players about the art of the spitball.
Taken by De Luxe Studios of Hot Springs, the photo was once in the archives of The Sporting News and is being offered at auction for the first time. It’s one of several hundred images up for grabs at RMY Auctions through March 10.
Oh, and depending on condition, those signed baseballs are worth $1,000 and up today.