Summer Premier Auction 2019

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

Today, Branch Rickey’s famous turn-of-the-century promise to his mother to not play baseball on Sunday seems like a huge sacrifice, one that would put any pro athlete’s career in jeopardy. But in reality, in most American cities at that time, Sunday baseball was actually against the law. It wasn’t until 1902 that Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis became the first major league cities to legalize play on the sabbath. The other failed to get Sunday ball approved, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. In 1917, the Reds and Giants played a Sunday afternoon game at New York’s Polo Grounds in full violation of the law. The game was played to conclusion but both managers were arrested afterwards.

This extraordinary letter, penned by Brooklyn Dodgers iconic owner Charlie Ebbets and dated December 3, 1917, is in response to the ridiculous “blue laws” that banned professional sports on Sunday in New York. Addressed to “Mess. Hempstead, Ruppert, Barrow, Chapin, Fuhrman and Farrell” -- owners and management of the Yankees and Giants -- the letter invites the New York baseball brain trust to a meeting at the Imperial Hotel to discuss the “passage by the New York State legislature of a bill permitting base ball on Sundays.” Despite all three of New York’s baseball teams banding together, religious and political sensibilities were hard to buck, and Sunday ball remained against the law in the nation’s largest city until April 19th, 1919. This significant one-page letter is typewritten on illustrated Brooklyn National League Baseball Club letterhead and signed in 6/10 black fountain pen by Charlie Ebbets. The letter has edge wear and some paper loss along with the rust marks from a paper clip and folds from mailing. Ebbets’ signature is clear and clean, and there is a pencil notation in an unknown hand reading, “Sunday Base Ball.” The letter comes with an LOA from PSA/DNA.

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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $300
Final prices include buyers premium.: $3,586
Number Bids: 22
Auction closed on Saturday, September 28, 2019.
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