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1940 Joe Kelley Handwritten Letter Re: 1897 Baltimore Keeler Six-Hit Game
Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $9,987.50
Rare two-page handwritten letter (on two separate sheets), dated January 3, 1940, signed by Hall of Fame outfielder Joe Kelley. In his letter, written to respected baseball writer and historian Albert Kermisch, Kelley responds to Kermisch’s request for information regarding a game in 1897. Kelley also takes time to comment on the many changes in baseball that have taken place since he retired. In part: “Mr. Al Kermisch – Dear Sir, Your letter with the summary of game played in 1897 received and you are going a long way back on me to think and be right. But I am pretty sure that the Sun paper’s account is right and Billy Keeler did not make six (6) hits in that game. Frank Patterson was the Sun reporter at that time and am kind of certain but not real sure that he was the official scorer that season… How many home runs would have been made in those two (2) games if we had the short fences and the lively ball that is in the game today. Look at all the hits in those games and you won’t see a home run made, which I think you could use in a story. How the game has changed. Sincerely, Joe Kelley.” Kelley has added the postscript “always glad to help if I can in any way. JK.” Both the text and signature have been boldly penned in black fountain pen and grade a perfect “10.” Joe Kelley signature examples are extremely rare and therefore highly sought after by collectors. Handwritten letters are rarer still. While we cannot state with certainty exactly how many Joe Kelley letters exist today, the number is certainly quite small and one would be hard pressed to locate another example, especially one such as this with significant baseball content. Kelley was sixty-eight years old when he wrote this letter and he passed away just three years later. It wasn’t until 1971, however, that he was elected to the Hall of Fame, thus accounting, in large part, for the extreme rarity of his signature today. In reading the letter it’s obvious that Kermisch and Kelley were good friends, which is not surprising since both men lived in Baltimore and would probably have had frequent contact with each other, especially given their common love of baseball. This letter originates directly from Kermisch’s estate. It was a great and very unexpected prize to find among Kermisch's saved correspondence. It is accompanied by the original mailing envelope, addressed in Kelley’s hand (no return address), postmarked “Jan 3 1940 Baltimore, MD.” Each page of the letter (8.5 x 13 inches) displays both vertical and horizontal mailing folds and is otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition. The envelope (9.5 x 4 inches) is in Very Good to Excellent condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$3,000. SOLD FOR $9,987.50
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