2023 February Finest Auction

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When it comes to baseball equipment, no item is more sacred to a ballplayer than his mitt. It represents the kid still left in every major leaguer long after a sport once played with pure joy became a high-stakes profession. In the hobby, these personal pieces of fine molded leather can be the toughest to procure and the most difficult to trace its roots. Few played the game with as much passion and youthful exuberance as Ted Williams, so we can only imagine how special this featured mid-1950s fielder’s glove was to the Boston Red Sox legend responsible for defending Fenway’s imposing Green Monster for two decades.

Unlike uniform articles and especially his H&B bats, gloves used by the “Splendid Splinter” during his Hall of Fame career are nearly extinct. This is the first one we have ever offered, and we know of just three others to surface this millennium – one from his 1938-41 rookie era, one from his final season in 1960, and one other from the 1950s. This should come as no surprise to collectors considering how long many players from that period would stick with the same glove.

Of course, provenance is incredibly important to properly document an item as personal to Teddy Ballgame as his game-used mitt. And he wouldn’t give it to just some casual fan. The lucky original recipient was a close friend of Ted’s named Frank Mason who owned camera shop that Ted frequented often during his playing career. Frank’s grandson has provided a notarized 2004 letter with details of the kind gesture.

My name is Lance Mason. My Grandfather, Frank Mason, was general sales manager of Gelottes Cameras in Boston from 1941 to 1964. Along with baseball and fishing, photography was a great passion of Ted Williams, and he was a frequent customer of my grandfather’s. Through photography Ted and my grandfather began a close friendship around 1948 till the death of my grandfather in 1964. In 1958 Ted gave the glove to my grandfather, who in turn presented it to me in 1990.”

Further evidence of Ted and Frank’s long friendship is included in the form of a personal letter, telegram, and signed photos (copies only), with much of the correspondence related to the two’s bond over fishing and photography.

The glove itself exhibits significant game use, seemingly a favorite of Ted's for at least a full season, if not multiple years. Countless flyballs and between-innings tosses are wrapped into the broken-in pocket. A PSA/DNA letter of authenticity dated 1/29/2020 from glove doctors Dennis Eskin and John Taube, identifies it as a Wilson pro-model A2040, dating to circa 1955, made of top grade tanned cowhide bound with all-original rawhide laces, a Hold-Tite wrist strap and Grip-Tite pocket. An additional LOA from Joe Phillips (The Glove Collector) from 2004 dates it to 1955-56. Much of the manufacturer labeling has worn off from heavy usage and age, and the right side of the wrist strap is almost completely torn. Yet, upon close inspection, Ted’s iconic No. "9" in black marker is still legible to the right of the remaining Wilson tag on the strap. In addition, you can still make out "--IAMS" from his last name written along the inner thumb.

Most importantly, according to PSA/DNA, this glove is photo-matched to Getty 3200137 and an image from the Leslie Jones Collection (LJC) from the Boston Public Library. Furthermore, it appears to be a match to the glove Ted’s daughter is holding in card #64 of his namesake 1959 Fleer Ted Williams set (“Daughter and Famous Daddy”). A referenced image of Williams with Hank Aaron in 1957 shows Ted using the same style glove, but by that point he had switched to a newer one. In 1958, this offered glove was officially gifted to his fishing and photography buddy, Frank Mason.

The wonderful provenance, heavy usage, key player identifiers and photo-matches combine to produce one of the finest Ted Williams game-used gloves in existence, worthy of display at the Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown and a rite of passage into collecting royalty. Includes LOA’s from PSA/DNA and The Glove Collector, the notarized letter from Lance Mason and several pages documenting his grandfather’s friendship with Ted Williams – all organized in a three-ring binder.

Getty Image used for photomatch by PSA/DNA: https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/full-length-portrait-of-boston-red-sox-player-ted-williams-news-photo/3200137

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