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Two 1879 Letters Regarding Troy's Admission to the National League
Starting Bid - $200.00, Sold For - $2,610.00
Presented are two letters, each written to National League secretary Nicholas Young in 1879, regarding the admission of the Troy Base Ball Club to the National League. The first letter, a lengthy four-page handwritten missive signed by Howard G. White, a representative of the Syracuse Stars Base Ball Association, calls for a more thorough investigation into the worthiness of Troy as a suitable candidate for admission. The letter, dated January 15, 1879, is written on four separate unlined sheets and reads in part: "Your letter to Mr. Townsend was received the early part of the week and as a directors meeting of the Star B.B. Association had previously been called, we met the same day and I brought up the Troy club subject for consideration...we do not deem it advisable to commit ourselves at present as regards the Troy City Club...Although the committee appointed by President Hulbert to examine into the financial standing of the Troy City Club reported favorably, we do not consider that any evidence of the playing standards of the club..." White then goes on to suggest that the league reconsider their vote of admitting Troy and allow for another fifteen days of consideration in the matter. Among other things he wishes to note that: "The Troy club has not had any experience in traveling, and has never played a game of ball outside of its own city, with the exception of Albany and I think Springfield. Even last summer after they had received six successive defeats from the Albany's, their gate receipts dropped off very much, and showed a marked contrast to the early part of the season. Our experience last season was that Albany not only had a stronger organization, but drew larger than Troy...The city is a better ball place than Troy, and is not only better situated, but the location of the grounds very much better...If the clubs refuse to entertain my motion I wish to be allowed to reconsider my vote." White has added the postscript "I wish to state again that our vote was not governed by any prejudice whatever on our part and think the clubs will see themselves they have made an error in voting the way they have." Although not known for certain, Howard White was most likely the brother or a close relative of Syracuse Stars owner Hamilton White. Interestingly, the 1879 season marked the debut season in the National League for both Syracuse and Troy. While White's comments proved prophetic (Troy finished in last place with a 19-56 record), he should have been more concerned with his own team. Syracuse finished with the second worst record in the league (22-48) and it was they, not Troy, who folded after just one season. Troy actually improved tremendously their second year, winning 41 games and finishing fourth. They remained in the league for two more years before folding after the 1882 season. The second letter, handwritten by J. M. W. Neff, owner of the Cincinnati Base Ball Association, is dated March 6, 1879 and penned upon official team stationery. It reads in full: "My Dear Sir, Look over your papers find + please send me the letter I wrote, Gardner Earl - Pr. Troy Club, as Chairman Committee upon application of Troy. Together with his answer - the date of my letter was Dec 18-78. Hope you + your good people all keep well. Of course you will be at the Buffalo meeting - Mr. Hulbert was here past week + we almost decided upon a schedule to report to the league. But shall endeavor to divulge no part of it until same is presented. Very Truly Yours. J. M. W. Neff." Gardner Earl was the owner of the Troy Base Ball Club and William Hulbert was president of the National League from 1877-1882. Both the text and signatures on each letter grade "9/10". Period notations on the reverse of each (in the hand of Nicholas Young) denote either the date received or the date responded to. The first letter (8 x 10 inches), written by White, displays two vertical and three horizontal fold lines and is in Excellent condition. The second letter (7.75 x 10.25 inches) also displays two vertical and three horizontal fold lines as well as a few small areas of light discoloration along one of the fold lines; it is otherwise in Excellent condition. LOAs from James Spence/JSA and Steve Grad, Mike Gutierrez & Zach Rullo/PSA DNA. Reserve $200. Estimate $400+. SOLD FOR $2,610.00
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