Summer Premier Auction 2019


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 9/28/2019

Today’s game is a bit more boring due to the lack of characters like Rabbit Maranville. This lovable troublemaker was a major part of the National Pastime, from playing in the same infield as Johnny Evers in the 1910s through the 1930s when he was teammates with Babe Ruth, and on into the 1940s when he was manager and mentor to Early Wynn. When Rabbit retired as a player in 1935, he held the record for most seasons played (23) until Pete Rose surpassed it five decades later. Rabbit was a jokester and unabashed lover of liquor and life, terrorizing teammates with his antics on long train rides and making headlines with his nighttime hijinks. Through it all Rabbit Maranville found time to carve out a Hall of Fame career at shortstop, taking the torch from Honus Wagner as the model of excellence at that tough position.

By the time he retired in 1935, Maranville had tempered his excesses to be a sought-after manager in the minor leagues. Rabbit skippered Montreal, Albany and Elmira before wrapping up his career with Springfield in 1941 at the age of 49. As manager of the Springfield Nationals, the old ballplayer was able to pass on his wealth of baseball knowledge to a dozen youngsters who would later make the majors, including a pitcher named Early Wynn, who would later join Rabbit Maranville in the Hall of Fame. Rabbit retired for good after the ‘41 season, making this hefty lot of Springfield Nationals correspondence the last pieces of Maranville’s long career. The collection consists of 12 handwritten and signed letters and contract pertaining to his last season in professional baseball. Most are addressed to Carl Linberg, GM of the Springfield National, who happens to be our consignor's great-grandfather.

The letters begin with an October 1940 piece discussing his taking over as manager of Springfield in 1941 and asking for a $200 advance on his salary to meet some bills. A later letter talks about corresponding with Clark Griffith (Springfield was associated with the Senators at the time) about trying to locate a good pitcher. Little did Maranville know then that he would have a budding Hall of Famer on his club in 1941: Early Wynn. A December letter finds Rabbit defending himself against some misleading newspaper articles which seem to imply he would join the army instead of managing in Springfield. A typewritten reply to this from Carl is also included. Another letter written just after the New Year asks for another $100 advance and finds the old ballplayer looking forward “with bells on” for the upcoming season. Later letters show Rabbit preparing for spring training and attempting to obtain a pitcher he managed in Montreal named Del Wetherall. The final letters in this lot find Maranville out of baseball and telling Carl that he would not be discussing the condition of the Springfield club with anyone – apparently it was not good at the time.

The last piece of this Hall of Fame group is Maranville’s contract to manage Springfield in 1941. Though partially filled out with salary ($3,000) and an incentive clause, the document is neither signed nor notarized. There are also nine total typed, unsigned letters from GM Carl Linberg (initialed "CGL" at end) to Rabbit on Springfield Nationals team letterhead. The condition of the paper varies from VG (ragged edges and toning) to EX-MT with fold creases. There are five full name signatures in the group of letters and seven that are signed simply “Rabbit.” They come mostly in 8-9/10 blue ink. An interesting look at the workings of a pre-war minor league team and the affairs of baseball lifer, Rabbit Maranville. All autographs have been pre-certified by PSA/DNA.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $300
Final prices include buyers premium.: $4,339
Number Bids: 16
Auction closed on Saturday, September 28, 2019.
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