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1931 Jud Wilson Signed Real-Photo Postcard
Starting Bid - $2,500.00, Sold For - $31,900.00
Exceedingly rare real-photo postcard signed by Negro League great Jud Wilson, one of the most recently elected members to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The signature of Jud Wilson (1899-1963) is today, arguably, the rarest of all twentieth-century Hall of Fame players. To the best of our knowledge, the offered signature is one of fewer than ten examples known to exist. This card may also be of special interest to baseball card collectors. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only card of any kind of Jud Wilson known to exist. The photo captures Wilson as member of the Homestead Grays in 1931 and has been signed "J Wilson" in black ink ("8") along the bottom white border. One of the reasons for the great rarity of Wilson's signature may be related to his temperament and mental stability. Wilson was not only one of the most feared hitters in Negro League history, but also the most feared, period. Possessing an uncontrollable temper and great physical strength, Wilson's numerous altercations with fans, umpires and fellow players soon became legendary in and out of baseball circles. Wilson was known to be willing to fight anyone, at anytime, for any reason, and he rarely came out on the losing end. Umpires especially tended to set him off. As his best friend and teammate, Jake Stephens (whom Wilson once dangled upside down by his ankles outside a hotel window) once remarked "the minute he saw an umpire, he became a maniac." It stands to reason then, that such a man would rarely be approached by fans for an autograph. Wilson's mental instability took many forms. On occasion, when preparing to bat, he was known to drag his bat on the ground as if writing in the dirt, and it was all his teammates could do to safely snap him out of his trance-like state and get him in the batter's box. Apparently, his unusual behavior was a manifestation of deep psychological problems. Wilson spent the final years of his life at St. Elizabeth's Mental Hospital in Washington, D.C. His behavior aside, his Hall of Fame credentials are many, and include two Negro League batting titles (1923 and 1927), a lifetime Negro League average of .345 (third highest in history) and a recorded batting average of .356 in twenty-six games against white Major League players. Further accomplishments include the highest lifetime average in the Cuban Winter Leagues (.372 over six seasons) and a .455 average in three Negro League East-West All-Star games. His career average of .375 against Satchel Paige resulted in the Hall of Fame pitcher declaring Wilson as one of the best hitters he ever faced. Wilson's career spanned the years 1922-45, in which time he played with a number of memorable clubs including the Baltimore Black Sox, the Homestead Grays, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Philadelphia Stars. This signed postcard was part of a significant collection of Negro League materials from the collection of Louis Santop, one of the greats of the Negro Leagues, which was sold in 1995 by Robert Edward Auctions. (This is this same collection from which the twice-signed Josh Gibson real-photo postcard also originates.) The Jud Wilson postcard was purchased in the 1995 auction by legendary Negro League collector Jeff Eastland. When Robert Edward Auctions sold the Eastland Collection at auction in 2004, Mr. Eastland kept just one significant item as a souvenir: The Jud Wilson signed postcard, an image of which Jeff Eastland put on his business cards. For years he used this image, literally and figuratively, as his calling card. To Jeff Eastland, Jud Wilson had always been a Hall of Famer. The fact that Wilson has finally been elected to the Hall of Fame has made this prize a potentially far more valuable souvenir of his collecting days, and has motivated Mr. Eastland to allow us to offer the Jud Wilson signed postcard in this auction. It is a virtual certainty that we will never see another. The postcard (3.5 x 5.5 ) is an extraordinarily high quality real-photo postcard with flawless contrast. A diagonal crease appears in the upper left corner as well as two small tack holes (one in the center of the top border, the other along the bottom border). The reverse features a preprinted postcard back. No manufacturer is listed. The card has never been mailed and the reverse is free of any written notations. Very Good condition overall. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Kevin Keating, author of the book The Negro Leagues Autograph Book, the definitive guide in the hobby. Additional LOAs from James Spence/JSA and Steve Grad, Mike Gutierrez & Zach Rullo/PSA DNA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000/$10,000 SOLD FOR $31,900.00
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