Fall Premier Auction 2019

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Jim Thorpe is widely regarded as the greatest all-around athlete to ever walk this earth. From the start, Thorpe excelled in any sport in which he participated. A member of the Sac and Fox nation, his athletic talents were recognized by legendary football coach Glenn "Pop" Warner as a 16-year-old while attending Carlisle Indian School. By the time he graduated, Thorpe was nationally famous from both his track and field and football exploits. He became an international phenomenon when he won gold medals in both the pentathlon and decathlon events at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Upon meeting Thorpe, Sweden’s King Gustav reportedly said, "You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world", to which the Olympian supposedly replied, "Thanks, King."

In the years after the Olympics, Jim Thorpe played both football and baseball professionally and was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a running back, defensive back kicker and punter. He was a member of two New York Giants National League pennant-winning teams, playing outfield and being used as a pinch-hitter. For his MLB career, he batted .252 with 7 home runs and 18 triples. Unfortunately, his success and fame on the field eventually met a long period of personal hardship when his natural athletic gifts faded and he was forced to provide for his family through other means. Alcoholism and a string of health issues led to Thorpe becoming essentially broke in his 50s before passing away in 1953 at the age of 65.

Thorpe memorabilia has always been tough to come by, and his single signed baseballs are heavily coveted by autograph collectors. We have only represented one previous Thorpe single and that was over ten years ago. This one certainly measures up to the few other examples that have surfaced, of which you can probably count on one hand. The Official Pacific Coast League Wilson baseball dates to 1944-54 (Clarence Rowland presidential stamp) and Thorpe's blue fountain pen signature on a side panel rates 5/10 in our opinion. The ball itself is relatively clean with even soiling and void of any shellack or other impurities often used for autograph preservation.

The provenance provided dates the ball to 1951 when our consignor's father, George Vico, a former big-leaguer, played for the PCL's Seattle Rainers. The story is that Thorpe was in attendance and signed the ball at that time. Vico played for the Tigers 1948-49 and later scouted for the L.A. Dodgers. Includes full LOA from PSA/DNA.

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