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Lot # 890 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Fred Lieb Correspondence Archive (1940s-1970s)

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $1,276.00

Comprised of approximately 350 pieces of written correspondence, in the form of letters and postcards, this vast archive represents nearly forty years of musings, opinions, and reminiscences regarding our national pastime from legendary Hall of Fame sportswriter and baseball historian Fred Lieb. One of the universally recognized giants in the field of baseball reporting, Lieb covered over 8,000 baseball games during his career, which spanned seven decades, including every World Series from 1911 through 1958. For decades, Lieb was the premier writer of the game, documenting the issues, the players, and the drama of each season. Lieb was also a longtime correspondent for The Sporting News and wrote many noted books on the game. In addition to being a member of the Baseball Writer's Association of America for sixty-eight years, Lieb served on numerous Hall of Fame selection committees and was himself honored at the Hall in 1972 by being awarded the J. G. Taylor Spink Award (presented annually to a baseball writer [or writers] "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing"). Lieb passed away in 1980 at the age of 92. The collection of correspondence offered here represents a unique and extraordinary archive of letters from Lieb to his friend Larry Doyle O'Neill, a lifelong baseball fan and amateur historian. The letters span decades, dating from the 1940s through the 1970s, with the majority being from the 1950s and 1960s. Nearly all of the letters feature baseball content, with many offering historically significant and revealing remembrances from a man who had literally "seen it all" in his day. Included among the many topics discussed here are the "Black Sox" scandal, integration, World Series moments, and expansion, as well as numerous stories and profiles of some of the game's legendary stars such as Ruth, Cobb, Mathewson, McGraw, Sisler, and Hornsby. The recipient of these letters was obviously a big fan of both the St. Louis Browns and New York Mets, and many letters reference and comment upon those two clubs. In reading these letters, one is constantly amazed at Lieb's ability to remember particular moments and incidents, many of which do not even involve significant players or games. Within these letters Lieb provides profiles of players such as Mathewson ( "... he was cold, reticent and retiring...Giant fellow players respected him, but he was not overly popular. Most players on other teams did not particularly like him, considering him rather swell-headed..."), presents his views on the coming of free agency ("...He [Marvin Miller] doesn't know or understand baseball. If he did, he would not have backed Curt Flood all the way to the Supreme Court. If the "reserve clause" is held illegal, in a few years, the richest clubs will control all the better players. Without good races, and lots of feeble clubs, the big attendances will go down..."), and offers insight into the politics of how Hall of Fame selections are made ("...Stockton [sportswriter J. Roy Stockton] has been plugging Haines. In 1969, I agreed to support either Haines or Hafey, if he would support Joe Kelley. He made a talk recommending Kelley, so this year I told him he could use my proxy in support of Haines."). This is literally a treasure trove of first hand baseball history told by the man who bore personal witness to nearly eighty years of Major League baseball. It would be impossible for us to do justice to the magnitude and breadth of this collection in a catalog description. A selection of individual letters are presented on our website. This archive represents the foundation of a book unto itself. Nearly all of the letters (averaging 5.5 x 7 inches) are typewritten (the postcards are all handwritten) and all have been signed by Lieb. The vast majority are accompanied by their original mailing envelopes. Very Good condition overall. Total: approximately 350 pieces of correspondence. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).

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