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Historic Connie Mack Signed Letters (1908 and 1909) Regarding Joe Jackson (2)
Starting Bid - $2,500.00, Sold For - $8,120.00
Presented here are two extraordinarily significant letters directly relating to Joe Jackson's debut as a rookie in the Major Leagues, written by Connie Mack in 1908 and 1909, respectively. It is incredible that such historically significant correspondence relating to the dawn of Jackson's career has survived. Unknown to most fans, Jackson's Major League career began not in Cleveland, but in Philadelphia. In August of 1908, Philadelphia A's manager Connie Mack purchased Jackson's contract from the Greenville Spinners for $325, with the hope that the young 18-year-old outfielder would help reinvigorate his aging team. In the first of Mack's letters offered here, dated "8/21/08," he writes to a Mr. Erwin Holt and discusses not only the current state of affairs with his ball club but also the eagerness with which he awaits Jackson's arrival. The two-page handwritten letter, penned in black fountain pen upon official team stationery, reads in part: "My Dear Mr. Holt, Your letter received some time ago and pleased to hear from you. We have had a hard time of it this season and really have been in no shape to play our games. As we have two or three players who have not been in shape all season. At this time we are going very good but its to [sic] late to make a showing. Am going to try out some young blood. Barr of Greenville, SC is now here, looks promising. Jackson am expecting every day. Appreciate very much the interest you have taken in the club..." Jackson did arrive that August and his debut was quite auspicious, as he banged out three hits in his first game. Unfortunately for Mack, Jackson's reception in Philadelphia was not to his liking. The call to the majors represented the first time Jackson had been away from home, and more important, out of the South. He was totally unprepared for the "Northern Hospitality" he would receive. Baseball rookies at the time, unlike today, were often treated as outsiders by the regulars and viewed as a threat to their livelihood. As such, not only could newcomers expect no help from the veterans, they were often treated quite harshly. Jackson, a young, shy, inarticulate, backwards Southerner stood out as an easy target in the clubhouse and he quickly became the subject of harsh ridicule. Pining for his home down South, Jackson jumped the team after only five games and returned to Greenville. Mack was obviously sympathetic to Jackson's plight and did not give up on the talented youngster. That fact is evidenced by his second letter offered here, dated "Feb 24th. 09" and again written to Erwin Holt. Mack talks of Jackson's potential and offers hope that the outfielder has matured somewhat over the winter. The two-page typed letter, written upon official team stationery, reads in part: "My Dear Mr. Holt:- Your letter of February 13th., received. Pleased to hear from you and so forth. On March 8th., we leave for New Orleans, by way of Cincinnati. Feel pretty well satisfied with the outlook for 1909. If we only have a first class catcher am sure that we would be right up in the Bunch. Jackson has signed his contract and from reports that I get from Greenville this player realizes that it is better for him to give his best services to our Club this Year. That he will not feel homesick and so forth as last year. In that event there is no doubt but what he will be of some assistance in helping us to win. We have quite a few young players who look promising, and with the old players feel that we will be able to at least give a good account of ourselves..." Mack's words were not prophetic. Jackson once again was unable to adapt to his new surroundings. He only managed to play in five games with the A's before returning down South to play for Savannah in the South Atlantic League. The following season Mack failed to acquire his services at all, as Jackson opted to play in New Orleans. Realizing Jackson would never return to Philadelphia, Mack reluctantly traded him to the Cleveland Indians on July 25, 1910. In return for Jackson, Mack received Briscoe Lord, a journeyman outfielder who began his career in Philadelphia in 1905. Jackson, of course, blossomed into one of the greatest hitters of the era, while Lord finished his career in 1913 with a .256 lifetime average. Each letter (8.5 x 11) has been signed by "Connie Mack" in black fountain pen, with both signatures grading "9." The letters each display normal mailing folds, as well as two notebook filing holes along the top border. Excellent condition. Total 2 letters. LOAs from James Spence/JSA and Steve Grad, Mike Gutierrez & Zach Rullo/PSA DNA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open) SOLD FOR $8,120.00
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