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..."

Auto Collection: Steve Garvey 2005 Donruss Signature Club

Here is a combination game-used bat and autograph insert card of Steve Garvey from the 2005 Donruss Signature Club Series. It's not numbered, but is just a great looking card.

1978 Clinton Dodgers

Here is a vintage minor league set produced by TCMA of the 1978 Clinton Dodgers. Check out the entire 33 card set here in my photo album. The Clinton, Iowa team was the Dodgers single A ballclub for only 3 years- from 1977 to 1979.

Overall, this was a fairly terrible team as they recorded a dismal 53-83 record. Not surprisingly, only three future Major League regulars came out of here- Mitch Webster, Brian Holton and Ron Kittle. Only former Dodger Mitch Webster has a card in the set. You can see it above on the top left. Also, I was surprised to find that Kittle was once Dodger property. I had no idea. He would have looked pretty good in Blue in the early to mid-80's.
One of the great things about these early minor league sets are some of the strange quirks within it. If you check the very first photo of the post, on the top right, you see the team operators- Mr. & Mrs. Bach. Here is a terrible looking B&W photo of Riverview Stadium with a great note about how it would soon be home to a TV shoot.
I bet nobody messed with Ron LeFlore on that team. And of course, I had to show the batboys card. Congratulations Matt Potts and Fred Lunett, you have been immortalized on cardboard.

Card of the Week: King of Beers

This Bud's for you, Jay Johnstone. He sure knows how to party. He's hanging out at good ol' Wrigley Field prepared for some wet weather and thinking about lounging out on the dugout steps with a cold one. Here is his 1984 Fleer Baseball card which is this week's "Card of the Week".