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Lot # 973 (of 1560)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Fred Goldsmith Signed Autograph Album Page - Staking Rightful Claim As Inventor of The Curve Ball!

Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,763

Album sheet, removed from the legendary autograph album compiled by Dr. John O'Meara in the 1930s, signed by Fred Goldsmith, the first player to publicly demonstrate a curve ball. (The original near-complete album is also offered in this auction; please see the lot description for full details.) This signed sheet is of extraordinary historical significance with reference to the invention of the curve ball. Although Goldsmith's signature in any form is extremely rare (he died in 1939 at the age of eighty-three), this sheet is as important to historians as it is to autograph collectors due to the fact that Goldsmith, in addition to signing the page, has also clearly, in his own hand, staked his claim as the rightful inventor of the curve ball. Like many aspects of baseball, including its origins, the invention of the curve ball has long been the subject of great controversy. From the earliest days in which the issue was even considered by scholars, dating back to the turn of the century and before, two candidates vied for this honor among historians of the game: Fred Goldsmith and Candy Cummings.

In his lengthy inscription on this sheet, which fills the entire page, Goldsmith writes: ‘F. E. Goldsmith � Chicago White Socks [sic] winner of six Worlds Championships. Originator of first curve ball. Made a public demonstration on the old Capitoline Grounds, N. Y. on Aug 27th 1870. Born at New Haven, Con., May 15, 1854. � Birmingham Mich.’ Both the signature and text are scripted in blue fountain pen and grade ‘10.’ To the day he died, Fred Goldsmith always strongly maintained that he, not Candy Cummings, invented the curve ball. Despite the fact that most books today credit Cummings with having been the originator of the curve ball, Goldsmith's claim had great merit. He had many supporters who shared his view. In fact, the one fact that is universally agreed upon is that Goldsmith was the first player to publicly demonstrate the curve ball. As he notes here, that event took place on the Capitoline Grounds in New York in 1870. His later mastery of the pitch made him one of the top pitchers in the game during the 1880s. Goldsmith won twenty or more games in four consecutive seasons with the Chicago White Stockings and in 1880 his winning percentage of .875 was the best in the National League. Ironically, in 1939, the year in which Goldsmith died, Candy Cummings was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame primarily on the basis of his having invented the curve ball. We know that O'Meara compiled this album in the 1930s; therefore Goldsmith's entry was obtained just shortly before his passing. It is interesting to note that Goldsmith's recollection of specific dates appeared to be faltering. According to all published reports, his demonstration on the Capitoline Grounds took place on August 16, 1870, not August 27th as he states. Famed baseball writer Henry Chadwick was in attendance that day and his observations of Goldsmith's new pitch were published in the Brooklyn Eagle on August 17, 1870. Also, most baseball reference books, based upon census reports, record Goldsmith's year of birth as 1856, not 1854. The page (5.5 x 4.5 inches) has been neatly removed from the original album and is in Near Mint condition. Encapsulated by Beckett Grading Services in conjunction with James Spence Authentication. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,763


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