Summer Premier Auction 2019


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

One of the endearing qualities that baseball has over every other sport is that it is a long season; athough you may lose today, tomorrow’s game will make today’s loss irrelevant. That’s true for many teams most of the time, but in 1908, this reassuring way of thinking could not have been further from the truth. This typewritten and signed letter by Giants manager John McGraw is an example of why every game should count, and you should do everything in your power to put it in the win column. In this one-page unaddressed letter, McGraw recounts the circumstances surrounding a disputed call that had possibly cost his Giants a chance to tie or win a game.

The game in question was a May 2, 1908 contest between the Giants and Phillies at the Polo Grounds. In the bottom of the 6th, Cy Seymour was on first. As the pitch was thrown, Seymour took off to steal second, but stopped when the batter fouled off the ball which was then caught by the Phillies catcher. Home plate ump Bob Emslie call “foul!” and Seymour, believing the ball dead, walked slowly back to first. The Phillies second baseman received the ball from the catcher and proceeded to tag the unsuspecting Seymour out before he reached first. Giants manager John McGraw, always in the mood for a fight, stormed out of the dugout to argue with Emslie. The home plate umpire referred McGraw to fellow arbitrator Cy Rigler, who had jurisdiction over the play. The two conferred and made the decision that “he did call it foul but it was a second strike, whereupon they reversed their decision and called Seymour out.” The Phillies snuffed out the Giants rally and held on to win, 2-1.

While this might seem like nothing more than a tough, 1-run loss in a long season, it would turn out that games such as this do matter – the Giants finished 1908 tied with the Chicago Cubs, necessitating a one-game playoff. In a pitcher’s duel for the ages, Chicago’s Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown bested 37-game winner Christy Mathewson to snatch the pennant from the Giants. It is left to the imagination to wonder what would have happened had the Rigler-Emslie call been reversed, and the Giants rallied to win the game…

The letter shows edge wear and slight tearing at the creases. There is toning throughout and several perforations on the top portion of the sheet. A pencil notation correcting the date of the game is located in the first line and McGraw has signed the letter in 6-7/10 black fountain pen. A slight imperfection is seen at the tail end of the Giants manager’s signature, but this does not take away from the historical value or display quality of this piece of baseball history. The letter comes with an LOA from PSA/DNA.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $300
Final prices include buyers premium.: $1,034
Number Bids: 11
Auction closed on Saturday, September 28, 2019.
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