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1879-1885 National League Archives Letters (Nicholas Young Collection)
Starting Bid - $400.00, Sold For - $1,972.00
This collection of three autograph nineteenth-century letters originating from the files of National League secretary Nicholas Young is comprised of the following: 1) an 1879 letter from J. Wayne Neff, president of the Cincinnati Base Ball Association to J. F. Evans, president of the Cleveland Base Ball Club ; 2) an 1880 letter from Gardner Earl, president of the Troy City Base Ball Association to National League secretary Nicholas Young; and 3) an 1885 letter from John B. Day, president of the New York Giants to then president of the National League Nicholas Young. Of the three, the last one is the most significant with regard to its baseball content. In 1883 John B. Day purchased both the New York Giants of the National League and the New York Metropolitans of the American Association. His dual ownership of the ball clubs only lasted two seasons, however, for he later sold his interest in the Mets to Frank Rhouer in 1885. This interesting three-page letter, written on Davis & Day letterhead, is dated March 26, 1885 and still finds Davis as the owner of both clubs. In this letter to secretary of the National League Nicholas E. Young, Day discusses the transfer of players from the Mets to the Giants as well as the extremely controversial issue of how the National League should deal with the former National League players who broke their contracts to jump to the rival Union Association in the wake of the dissolution of the Union Association. Day writes in full: "Dear Nick, I mind you today upon the Lucas subject. I think it very unfair to force this question in the way he does. Should the League conclude to reinstate these men I think no action should be taken until we can tell the arbitration numbers from the am. assn. in order that some may out of the effect of their resolution passed at Baltimore in which they pledged not to play with clubs who lose players against those men may be reached. For myself I do not favor being compelled to do as Lucas desires in this matter. I do not think he will desent the League + if he did, do not think the effect would be injurious. Will you please send me a few League contracts gave all mine to Lucas last winter. I mind you to release Hankinson from the N.Y. club hope you have done so as I want to sign him in the Mets soon as possible. Have the transfer of Keefe and Esterbrook underway today. Very Truly Yours, John B. Day." Both the text and signature have been penned in black ink and grade "9." Included with the letter is a telegram ticker tape, also dated March 26th, from Day to Young which reads: "Cannot quite agree with you upon the reinstatement question. Will not however stand in the way. Think no action should be taken until April Third. Please promulgate release of Frank Hunkinson [sic] from our club. John B. Day." The transfer of the players mentioned did indeed occur that spring, as Hankinson went from the Giants to the Mets while Hall of Famer Tim Keefe and Dude Esterbrook went from the Mets to the Giants. The Lucas mentioned in the letter is Henry Lucas, the founder of the Union Association. The Union Association was formed in 1884 as a rival Major League to both the National League and American Association. Lucas had hoped that the rising dissatisfaction on the part of the players with respect to the reserve clause would spark a mass exodus to his new league. Unfortunately for him, many of the top players refused to cross lines. That fact and poor planning resulted in very low attendance and the League disbanded after only one season. This is a very significant letter relating to critical issues facing the National League at the time regarding the fate of players who had jumped to the now-defunct new League, as well as how to deal with the challenges to the balance of power presented by team owners such as Day who controlled more than one team. Each sheet (5.75 x 9 inches) of the letter (written on three sides of two separate pages) displays normal mailing folds and light singe marks along the border from fire damage (nearly all of Nicholas Young's extant correspondence originates from his fire-damaged safe). Additionally, light tone marks are evident on the first page as a result of the telegram ticker tape having rested upon the letter for many years. Very Good condition overall. The J. Wayne Neff letter, dated February 3, 1879 and penned upon Cincinnati Base Ball Association stationery, is addressed to J. F. Evans and reads "Dear Sir, Enclosed find application of Albany. My import upon same. Should you concur in my views sign James + forward to White. We cannot make a schedule for an odd number of clubs. Nor do I think more than eight members advisable. Even now there will be occasions when our clubs will have to play 4 games a week. Very truly yours, J. W. Neff." Both the text and signature, penned in black ink, display very slight bleeding and grade "8-9." The one-page letter (8 x 10.5 inches) displays normal mailing folds and light toning. Very Good to Excellent condition. The final letter represents correspondence from Gardner Earl to Nicholas Young and is dated January 26, 1880. Gardner has penned his two-page letter in purple ink upon Troy City Base Ball Association stationery and writes to Young regarding the applications of both Albany and Worcester to the National League. Gardner writes in part: "Dear sir, Please record our vote against Worcester for the following reason: We have been informed that the Albanys have forwarded the necessary documents to back up the application for admissions made in their behalf by Mr. DeForest at the league meeting. We have nothing against the Worcesters and would like to see all of the National clubs admitted, but with only eight-clubs we think it will be better for all concerned to take Albany...Sincerely Yours, Gardner Earl." A few lines of the text display light bleeding; otherwise both the text and signature grade "9." Each page of the letter (8 x 10 inches) displays normal mailing folds and is in Excellent condition. Three fascinating letters originating from the estate of N. E. Young, each directly relating to his role in the National League's earliest years of existence. Correspondence from the Nicholas Young archives is very rare. There were only approximately thirty-five baseball letters discovered by the Young family, all of which surfaced and were sold directly by the family in the early 1990s. LOAs from James Spence/JSA and Steve Grad, Mike Gutierrez & Zach Rullo/PSA DNA. Total three letters. Reserve $400. Estimate $800+. SOLD FOR $1,972.00
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