Thursday, September 30, 2010

Negro Leagues: 1909 Rube Foster/ Pete Hill Postcard

Even with the economy as tough as it is, vintage and rare Baseball memorabilia can still garner big prices. Check out this great vintage real photo postcard featuring a heralded Negro League team from 1909 called the Chicago Leland Giants. It is notable because it features Hall of Famers Rube Foster (top right) and Pete Hill (top left). Anything with Pete Hill is extremely rare. It sold for an astounding $22,137.50 (over $21k above estimate).

As a special note, Rube Foster was seen by NY Giant manager John McGraw at around 1901, and (as legend has it) was so good McGraw wanted to have him play for his team. Of course, those times would not allow it, so he instead had Foster coach a young pitcher named Christy Mathewson on how to throw his fadeaway pitch (screwball).

Some Baseball historians have discredited this story. I, nevertheless, would like to think it is true. After all, John McGraw was an unusual character. He was fiery and temperamental, a brawler and a cheater, Baseball's best talent scout and a racist. Yet, upon his death, in his personal belongings, was not only a piece of a noose used in a lynching that he kept for good luck but a list of Negro League players he had seen who he wished could have played for him.
(click pic to enlarge)
(Hake's Auction Link)

Below is from the auction description.
In 1901 Frank Leland combined the “Chicago Unions” with the Chicago Union Giants (1901-1904) and in 1905 they were re-named the Leland Giants. Rube Foster joined the Giants in 1907, leading them to a 110-10 record including 48 straight wins. In 1909 the Giants entered the tough integrated city league. In Foster’s first 11 stars he won 11 games with 4 shut-outs. By 1910 the Giants were the talk of the Midwest but Foster and Leland parted ways with Foster retaining legal rights to the Lelands Giants name. Foster chose to re-name the team “American Giants” for the 1911 season while Lelands’ new team was named the Chicago Giants. Rube Foster is shown on the back row at far right. Rare. Nice clear image.
Rube Foster is probably one of the finest pitchers most fans have never heard of. Unfortunately, we can't use his playing record as a way of comparing him to the best at the time. We do have, though, some first hand accounts from some of the best. Frank Chance said he was, "the most finished product I'd ever seen in the pitcher's box. Honus Wagner said Foster was, "one of the greatest pitchers of all time...smartest pitcher I've ever seen..."

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