The name Lou Criger is one that is known to many deadball era enthusiasts; during his time he was considered one of the greatest catchers the game had known. The Elkhart, Indiana native was the catcher for most of Cy Young’s wins, staying with the great pitcher during his time with Cleveland, St. Louis and Boston. He was the Red Sox’ first catcher, and caught every inning in the first World Series. Criger later revealed that during that series, he turned down a $12,000 offer from a gambler to call “soft pitches” during the Series. Commissioner Ban Johnson, citing Criger’s honesty and integrity, established a pension fund for retired players – Criger was one of the first recipients.
Criger was our kind of guy.
Health issues plagued the catcher later in his life, as he lost a leg to tuberculosis in 1914 and ultimately relocated to Arizona to take advantage of the warm climate.
In 1930, the Boston Post newspaper hosted an Old-Timer’s Game at Braves Field in Boston, bringing together some of the greatest players ever to take the field. Such luminaries as Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Ed Walsh, Honus Wagner, and Tris Speaker were present; the game’s first hit delivered by future Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins.
The beloved Criger, unfortunately, could not make the game due to illness, prompting the players to present the player with several mementos from the game, including a large, poster-sized certificate of appreciation which was signed by 49 deadball era figures. The poster hung in the hallway in Criger’s Arizona home until he passed in 1934, and remained in the possession of his family until our visit to Arizona, where they graciously consigned it to our Winter auction. It is the family’s desire that the piece find a home in a private collection, perhaps even in the Boston area, where Criger made his name. The family also consigned a large panoramic photo from the day that was given to Criger by the photographer.
It is our belief that reproductions of the poster were given to the participating players, as examples have occasionally been seen in the hobby. For instance, when presenting the poster to James Spence Authentication for review, we were advised that their digital library of exemplars contained a copy. Additionally, a black and white reproduction was featured in a recent Heritage auction. However, the original has never been seen.
We are thrilled to feature this amazing piece in our winter auction. It is simply spectacular, measuring 20″ x 29″ in its original frame (likely framed some time after 1930). Each of the signatures – a veritable “who’s who” of Boston baseball and T206-era history – is strong and bold, and crystal clear, with each measuring approximately 3″ long and nearly an inch high. While some minor staining can be seen near the bottom of the poster (including what looks like a small tea or coffee drop), these signatures are simply amazing.
The hand-lettered message on the poster, written in calligraphy with red and silver accents, reads as follows:
In Appreciation Lou Criger
We want you to know, old pal, that none of us could forget you, that we were all thinking of you and praying for you as we gathered here in Boston for one more good time together.
God in his wisdom has seen fit to give us various burdens. Yours has been heavy, but we know that you are giving it a grand and gallant fight, and we know you’ll come thru, for Lou Criger always fought it out until the last strike was called.
The only shadow on the day was the fact that you couldn’t be here, but since you couldn’t we, your old team mates, and the boys you played against, send you this expression of our affection.
The piece is then signed exquisitely by a “dream team” of deadball era players (and fans), each signature more striking and beautiful than the one before it:
Cy Young (HOF), Ty Cobb (HOF), Harry Hooper, Bill Carrigan, William Dinneen, Hugh Bedient, Jack Coombs, Nick Altrock (who added “Still Nutty – Hope you are OK” in the margin), James Collins (HOF), Fred Parent, Edd Roush (HOF), Chief Bender (HOF), Harry Gowdy, George “Candy” LaChance, Rube Oldring, Fred Tenney, Ed Walsh (HOF), Hobe Ferris, Dick Hoblitzell, Dode Paskert, Larry Gardner, Ralph Glaze, Larry Doyle, Emil Fuchs (Braves owner), Thomas Madden, Johnny Evers (HOF), Bill Bradley, Bill McKechnie (HOF), Kitty Bransfield, Fred Clarke (HOF), Jimmy Archer, Nuf Ced McGreevy, Fred Mitchell, Dave Shean, Bill Sweeney (the only signature that, signed in a lighter ink, has faded), Jeff Tesereau, Leslie Mann, Honus Wagner (HOF), Buck Freeman, Clyde Engle, Steve Yerkes, Tris Speaker (HOF), Duffy Lewis, “Smoky” Joe Wood, Ed Cunningham, Fred Hoey (who inscribed “cheerleader” in the margin), and three names we are still working to identify: “Stick Stick Lew Stick,” Joe Conway and Ed Cunningham.
This piece is simply incredible, an unbelievably high-end, one-of-a-kind piece that commemorates what may have been the last gathering of some of these Deadball Era greats all in one place.
We will undoubtedly be conducting plenty of research on this game and its players in the time leading up to our winter auction, but we couldn’t resist sharing this amazing piece with you right now.
And, of course, if you’ve got any information on Lew Stick, Joe Conway or Ed Cunningham, feel free to get in touch!
Today we announced our upcoming consignment trip, which will take us all across the country over a three-week span.
During that time, we’ll be gathering consignments for our Winter, 2015 auction and also sharing some of the consignments we’ve acquired with the collectors we meet.
We’re making appointments to visit with consignors all along the route. Our schedule looks like this:
• September 24 – Burlington, VT
• September 28/29 – New York, NY
• September 30 – Detroit, MI
• October 1 – Columbus, OH
• October 2 – Louisville, KY
• October 3 – Kansas City, MO
• October 4 – Wall, SD
• October 5 – Cody, WY
• October 6 – Seattle, WA
• October 7 – Portland, OR
• October 9/10 – Los Angeles, CA
• October 11 – Phoenix, AZ
• October 12/13 – Moab, UT
• October 14/15 – Denver, CO
• October 17 – St. Louis, MO
• October 18 – Pittsburgh, PA
We’ve got some special consignment offers during the trip:
• NO CONSIGNOR FEES on anything consigned during our trip
• WE PAY 102% on all consignments valued over $20,000 total
• WE PAY 105% on all consignments valued over $50,000 total
• WE PAY 105% on any individual item valued over $20,000
We do have some specific items on our “Want List” for this auction, so if you’ve got any of these items in particular and would be interested in meeting with us, please contact us at (973) 452-9147 or email@example.com:
• 1909-11 T206 Eddie Plank & Sherry Magie error
• 1909 T204 Ramly Walter Johnson
• 1914/15 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson & Christy Mathewson
• 1916 M101-4/5 Babe Ruth
• 1933 Goudey Nap Lajoie
• 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski
• 1952 Bowman Large Jim Lansford
• 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle
• 1954 Topps Hank Aaron
• Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson
• Complete sets (graded and ungraded)
• High-grade Hall of Famers
• Rare type cards
• 19th Century Hall of Famers
• Game-used memorabilia (bats, jerseys, etc)
• Prewar autographs
• Advertising display materials
• Rare baseball postcards
• 19th Century memorabilia
• Early scorecards
• Single-signed baseballs
• Type I Photos
If you have any of this type of material, and you’re considering selling, please contact us – if you’re along our route, we can come visit you!
Only known photo-matched Gehrig “miracle” bat sells for $437,000
GREAT MEADOWS, N.J., August 18, 2015 – Led by the most famous game-used bat to hit the auction block in recent memory, the 2015 Love of the Game Premier Catalog Auction realized record prices on significant sports cards and memorabilia, helping solidify the company as the hobby’s fastest-growing young auction house. With total sales approaching $900,000, the auction was the company’s biggest and most exciting sale to date.
Closing in the wee hours on Sunday, August 9, the auction generated a company-high 5,239 total bids from 558 different bidders, resulting in total sales of $895,976. Factoring out the phenomenal Gehrig bat, the realized prices averaged nearly $660 per lot, the auction’s 697 lots generating an average of 7.5 bids each.
“We’re thrilled with the results of our Summer auction,” stated Auction Director Al Crisafulli. “Since our inception it has been our goal to deliver a trustworthy auction, in which bidders can have total confidence. We’ve always felt that confident bidders can help restore integrity to the auction process and that as long as we present a high-quality auction, that bidder confidence will help realize record prices. This auction proves that theory, as we’ve realized record or near-record prices in many areas.”
1930 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Bat
The auction highlight was, of course, the hobby’s only photo-matched Lou Gehrig game-used bat. Graded GU 9 by PSA/DNA, the bat was consigned by a Northeast family that depended on it for protection from potential burglars; for 35 years, the bat rested behind the family’s front door. LOTG was able to find a fantastic photo match – a picture of Gehrig sitting alongside Babe Ruth and Bob Shawkey at Comiskey Park in 1930 proved to depict Gehrig holding the very same bat! Thus, the “miracle bat” added another miracle to its impressive resume, becoming the only known Lou Gehrig game-used bat with photographic documentation. As a result, the bat sold for nearly $437,000, the highest-ever price for a Gehrig bat, and one of the highest recorded prices for any game-used bat, ever.
“The Gehrig bat has become the most famous Gehrig bat in the world, and one of the hobby’s most desirable game-used bats,” Crisafulli noted. “The story behind the bat is fantastic, and the winning bidder has received an incredible piece of memorabilia. We couldn’t be more overjoyed for our consignor.”
Record Prices Realized
The Summer auction also featured a number of other record or near-record prices on cards and memorabilia of all kinds. The most notable, of course, was the amazing price recorded on the 1916 M101-4/5 Famous & Barr Babe Ruth, which sold for $44,100, an increase of nearly 20% over its last sale. The 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle PSA EX 5 also approached a record price, hammering down at $32,400, becoming just the second recorded example in that grade to eclipse $30,000.
The following ten lots achieved the highest realized prices in the auction:
Additional highlights include the 1906 Scranton Miners postcard signed by Moonlight Graham, which sold for an astonishing $5,100; the 1964 Bazooka Stamps panel featuring Mickey Mantle and graded NM-MT 8 by PSA which sold for $3,600; the 1949-52 Los Angeles Angels PCL game-worn jersey and cap which attained an incredible price of $2,100; and an incredible 1888 Detroit Wolverines advertising trade card that reached $1,680.
Bidding activity was brisk across the board, with a company record number of bids placed during the frenzied final 36 hours. “We realize that the auction business is a crowded field, and it’s difficult for collectors to pay attention to all of them,” explained Crisafulli. “That’s why we try and make each auction an event, with truly special items with fantastic stories and a deep sense of history. We want our auctions to be exciting, and judging from the amount of activity on the final day, it seems to be working. Our auctions are special events – we want everyone to bid, and enjoy watching the fantastic finishes.”
Indeed, in the Summer auction, 91% of the items featured in the auction ultimately sold, with a record number of bids placed for the company. The bids were spread across the board, with significant bidder activity on both high and lower-dollar items. A list of items that received the largest number of bids is as follows:
All the auction lots, along with descriptions and high-resolution photos and prices realized are archived on the Love of the Game website.
Love of the Game is currently preparing its Winter, 2015 auction, which will run in November and December. The company is currently accepting consignments for the sale, and offering excellent incentives for early consignment. LOTG is also planning its Fall Roadshow; a cross-country consignment-gathering tour that will take the company on a coast-to-coast trip to meet with consignors and accept consignments for the sale. Interested consignors can contact Al Crisafulli at (973) 452-9147 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We interrupt this auction to bring you this cool recently-unearthed interview. After his retirement, Lou Gehrig stopped into the studios of KROC-AM of Rochester, Minnesota, while he was a patient at the Mayo Clinic. The interview discussed nothing but baseball, but Gehrig gave some great opinions on the state of the game, circa 1939.
Easily our favorite part of running a sports auction is the research component. Digging into the history of an item, a player or a team, and discovering some obscure detail that can improve a story or increase our knowledge is rewarding, challenging, and most importantly, fun.
This time, we’ve found something that’s never been found before, and it has an enormous impact on the key lot in our current auction.
Several weeks ago, we let you know about the Lou Gehrig game-used bat that would be featured in our summer auction. It is an extraordinary piece with an incredible backstory, and it’s made lots of news since we announced it, appearing in a variety of articles in newspapers, magazines, and also on television.
While we were designing our catalog, however, we actively searched for a photo of Gehrig, holding a Batrite bat. On the other occasions when Gehrig Batrites have sold at auction, the listings included a photo of Gehrig, selecting a bat from a bat tray that contained some post-1930 Batrite models, but we’d never found a photo of the Iron Horse with a Batrite featuring the “bat wing” logo.
Two weeks ago we discovered one, taken for the Chicago Daily News, featuring Gehrig alongside Bob Shawkey and Babe Ruth. The photo depicted Gehrig clearly holding a “bat wing” bat, so much so that it could have been an ad for Hanna Batrite. We reached out to the Chicago History Museum, who owns the rights to the photo, and procured a license.
What they sent us was astonishing: a 1200 DPI scan from the glass plate negative that illustrated the detail on the bat in a way we hadn’t seen before: the grain patterns on the bat appeared to be a match for the bat in our auction!
This week we returned the bat to John Taube of PSA/DNA, who conducted a thorough examination of the bat, and arrived at the same conclusion: we had a photo match, and are in possession of the exact bat being held by Gehrig in the photo!
PSA/DNA found nine different points of reference on the subject bat with the bat in the photo, where the grain alignment of the barrel and centerbrand matched perfectly. Like fingerprints, grain patterns are unique. This new discovery increased the grade of the bat from PSA/DNA GU 8.5 to PSA/DNA GU 9.
This is the first and currently only Lou Gehrig professional model bat that has ever been photo matched. Among the rarest pro model bats in the hobby, this photo match enables us to put this very bat in Gehrig’s hands in Comiskey Park in 1930, clearly establishing Gehrig’s use with photographic proof. No Lou Gehrig bat exists with such impeccable provenance.
This extraordinary discovery could not have been made without help from the fine folks at the Chicago History Museum, or John Taube of PSA/DNA. We are thrilled to offer this incredible bat, now dated to 1930, perhaps Gehrig’s finest offensive season. How many of Gehrig’s 220 hits in 1930 were pounded by this bat?
Foley’s is at 18 W. 33rd St., between 5th & Broadway, right across from the Empire State Building. If you can make it down, we’ll be displaying material from our summer auction (which will be underway), offering free appraisals on pre-1960 sports memorabilia, and offering special deals on consigning to our fall auction.
Most importantly, though, come see Lou Gehrig’s bat!
Hope to see you there.
We’re proud to feature a beautiful 1916 Famous & Barr Babe Ruth in our upcoming Summer auction.
The Summer, 2008 edition of Old Cardboard contains what we believe to be the definitive word on the various M101-4 and M101-5 issues, in an article entitled “Making Sense of M101-5 and M101-4.” Written by hobby scholars Tim Newcomb and Todd Schultz, the article makes sense of the various card issues produced in 1916 by Felix Mendelsohn, including the Famous & Barr issue. The article discusses Meldelsohn’s visionary use of black and white action photography on baseball cards, a practice seldon seen in 1916 but which remains in practice today. As collectors dig further into the complexities of the M101-4 and M101-5 issues, the beauty (and difficulty) of the various sets is helping to increase their popularity.
Of course a larger contributor to the issue’s growing popularity is the presence of what is often considered Babe Ruth’s rookie card. The card is one of the hottest in the hobby at this time, with record breaking prices realized virtually every time an example becomes available. Examples of the card are known with a variety of advertising backs, and most are considered rare. The significance of this card cannot be overstated; it is one of the most important cards in the hobby, its rarity increased by the difficult Famous & Barr advertising back. In fact, just six graded examples of this card are known to exist (one of which does not appear on any population reports, but according to another auction house, does exist).
The card, which depicts Ruth as a young Red Sox pitcher, is graded POOR 10 by SGC though the aesthetic appeal of the card is far greater. The primary flaws lie in two tiny, barely perceptible pinholes at the top and bottom of the card. In addition, the card is marred by a thin crease that traverses the center of the card, as well as mild soiling and what appears to be glue residue on the reverse. That glue residue, however, is likely what maintained the card is such presentable condition, as mounting cards in vintage scrapbooks was a practice that helped preserve their appearance for many years. Such is the case with this card, which boasts a sharp, clean image and centering far superior to most examples of this card.
Few cards in the hobby are true “blue chip” cards. A 1916 Famous & Barr Ruth rookie card, however, certainly qualifies, as few cards in the hobby are more desirable. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the card’s production, we are pleased to offer this amazingly rare specimen, a centerpiece of even the most World Class collection.
Historically Significant Piece to be Featured in Summer 2015 Auction
GREAT MEADOWS, N.J., May 6, 2015 – When picking a name that speaks to the term “baseball legend,” Lou Gehrig is a common choice. Similarly, when choosing a preferred store-behind-the-door self-defense weapon, a baseball bat frequently serves as a homeowner’s choice. But when a Gehrig game-used bat surfaces in the sports memorabilia hobby – particularly one that for decades did, indeed, sit just inside its owner’s front door for peace of mind – there is nothing ordinary about it.
Great Meadows-based Love of the Game Auctions (LOTG) today announced it has procured a game-used Gehrig bat that will be featured in its Summer 2015 auction. It is one of fewer than 20 known examples, according to PSA ProBatFacts. As such, this PSA/DNA-certified 1929-31 Hanna Batrite R2 measuring 35.5 inches and 37.5 ounces, graded GU 8.5, represents a rare, historically significant piece that already is garnering significant attention.
“This bat was given to the consignor decades ago by a family member of a former Yankee Stadium groundskeeper,” said LOTG’s Al Crisafulli, president of the internet-based sports auction house. “Though the consignor is a Yankee fan, the family is not a baseball family, and without knowledge of the bat’s value it was kept behind the front door for protection – for 30 years.”
Crisafulli added that the bat was nearly left behind during a move in the early 2000s, and a few years later was almost given to a neighborhood child who liked to play ball. “Really, it is amazing that this outstanding piece of memorabilia made it this far, and its history certainly adds color to the story. All that aside, it is gorgeous. It is important. And it is among the most exciting consignments with which an auction house can be entrusted.”
Henry Louis Gehrig (1903-1941), a New York Yankees great, is recognized as one of the game’s most dominant hitters. Also known as The Iron Horse due to his then-record 2,130 consecutive games played, he held the franchise record for the most hits – 2,721 – until Derek Jeter tied it in 2009 (at which point the LOTG consignor considered sending the bat to Jeter as a congratulatory gift in the hopes of scoring some free Yankees tickets). His game-used bats rank among the hobby’s five most desirable for collectors, according to PSA, sharing that distinction with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson.
According to Crisafulli, early word of the consignment has been met with strong enthusiasm. “Beyond its significant value, this is the kind of item that makes baseball fans of all ages feel like kids again,” he said. “Everyone wants to hold this bat – which once belonged to a true American sports legend.”
LOTG’s summer auction will open in late July and run through early August. Crisafulli added that the Gehrig bat will share the spotlight with a growing – and impressive – lineup of featured items including a beautiful 1909-11 T206 near set, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle graded PSA EX 5, a beautiful selection of higher-grade N173 Old Judge Hall of Famer cabinet cards, and much, much more. For more information, visit www.loveofthegameauctions.com.
Our astute friend and fellow hobbyist Tom Daley made a great catch last week when it comes to the issue of the medal Jim Thorpe is wearing in our Real Photo Postcard.
After much enlargement and enhancement, we felt fairly confident that on Thorpe’s chest, we saw this:
This is a pedal from the Penn Relays, the longest-running amateur track and field competition in the United States (established in 1896). Jim Thorpe won a gold medal for the high jump (actually, he tied, and won the medal on a coin flip), his first significant athletic award. Since the postcards in question were both mailed less than two months after Thorpe’s victory, we speculated that perhaps the future great athlete was proudly wearing his Penn Relays medal, and the photographic evidence seemed to back that up.
Except it doesn’t.
A small excerpt from the Penn Relays’ “about the relays” page (which you can read in full here; it’s very interesting), is as follows:
“The design for the Penn Relays plaque and medal was executed by Dr. R. Tait MacKenzie in time for the 1925 meet. It shows Benjamin Franklin, founder of the University, seated in a chair modeled from his library chair, holding a laurel sprig in his left hand. He greets four runners, shaking the hand of the first, while the last holds a baton. Posing for the medal were former Penn athletes Larry Brown, Louis Madeira, George Orton and Ted Meredith. At the bottom of the relief is a lightning bolt, symbolic of Franklin’s explorations in the nature of electricity.”
While we initially thought “Well, the date could be an error,” it isn’t. Enlarged images of the medal show, underneath the chair in which Franklin is sitting, is the date 1925. Given the date is actually part of the sculpture, it’s reasonable to assume that this design is not what we’re seeing on Thorpe’s chest, and that our eyes are merely playing tricks on us.
It really does look like it, though.
This is not to say that the medal on Thorpe’s chest is definitively not his Penn Relays medal – we’re still researching what the earlier medals looked like. We’ve found one blue ribbon, ostensibly from 1908, but we’re not convinced that there weren’t different awards for different competitions. We’ve contacted the Penn Relays and are hoping that they can provide us with something definitive, but if any of our readers here happen to have information that can help us solve this mystery, we’re all ears!