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Lot # 646 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1900 Al Spalding Signed Letter To Henry Chadwick From Greece With Olympic Content

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $7,540.00

This extraordinary four-page handwritten letter finds Albert Spalding writing to Henry Chadwick in 1900 as he tours the original site of the ancient Olympic Games. Dated "Olympia Greece - Aug. 24. 1900," Spalding playfully begins his letter by writing "My Dear Chadwick: The Olympian God of Athletic Sports has authorized me to send its greeting to the oldest representative of athletic sport in America and therefore I forward this message to you." He then goes on to describe his journey: "It is an inspiration to look down upon the excavated ruins of these old Olympian fields and consider that athletic contests (something on the lines that we now understand them) originated here more than twenty-seven centuries ago. There is nothing here now but the ruins of this ancient past but if one could believe one tenth part of the wonderful stories my guide tells me they certainly conducted their annual games or festivals on a scale of magnificence never since attempted. I am full of the wonderful doings and sayings of Herodotus, Thucydides, Lysias, Plato and at a later period the Roman Emperors Nero and Tiberius. The latter, so it is said, entered as a contestant in a chariot race and gave notice that he would put to death any one that beat him, of course Tiberius won. Such methods destroyed the Olympian games, all of which might serve as a lesson to the managers of our modern sports...I leave here today for Corinth and Athens and may return to Paris via Italy or possibly Constantinople, Vienna and Munich. I am planning my trip as I go along. I haven't seen a newspaper that I can read for about a week and consequently don't know what is going on in the world...I will hope to see you in New York in October. Yours very truly, A. G. Spalding." The letter is penned in black ink, with Spalding's signature grading "7" and the text averaging "8-9." In addition to Spalding's signature, the letter has also been initialed by Henry Chadwick. Upon receiving this letter Chadwick obviously "passed it around" the office to be read by his colleagues, but he definitely wanted it back. That fact is clear by his customary blue-pencil notation ("8-9") in the upper right hand corner that reads "Return this to me. HC." Despite their heated debates over the origins of baseball, Spalding and Chadwick were good friends, a bond forged by their passionate love of our National Game. They were also two of the most significant figures in baseball history. Chadwick, who was the game's preeminent historian at the time, was commonly referred to as the "Father of Baseball," and Spalding was one of the game's greatest pitchers of the nineteenth century who later exercised his influence as a powerful team owner and sporting-goods magnate. At the writing of this letter, the 1900 Olympic Games were taking place in Paris, France. Since Spalding mentioned in his letter that he might return to Paris it stands to reason that he witnessed a few of the events during his first visit. Perhaps he was inspired by what he saw and thus added Olympia to his travel itinerary. The letter is written on all four sides of a fold-over multilined sheet. Ideally, Spalding's signature appears along the left border of the first page, as he ran out of room to add it on the reverse. Therefore, the letter displays both Spalding's signature and Chadwick's initials together on the first page, as well as the ink stamp of the Olympia Grand Hotel in the upper left corner which reads "Olympia Grand Hotel De La Cio Du Chemin De Fer." The letter (5.5 x 8.5 inches, folded) displays a few minor tears (both in the body and along the edges) and is slightly soiled and toned. Good to Very Good condition overall. Extremely significant content on many counts, especially in light of Spalding's dream to have baseball represented in the Olympics, and his long-standing desire to spread the gospel of baseball throughout the world. LOAs from James Spence/JSA and Steve Grad, Mike Gutierrez & Zach Rullo/PSA DNA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$3,000. SOLD FOR $7,540.00


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