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1915 Chicago Union Giants Base Ball Club Letter on Team Letterhead
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $1,185.00
One-page letter, dated March 27, 1915, signed by W. S. Peters, manager of The Chicago Union Giants. This is both an exceptional and rare early Negro League letter, notable both for its stunning photographic letterhead of a player sliding into a base and its outstanding baseball content. In his letter, Peters writes to a Mr. J. V. Brasfield in the hopes of scheduling a game for his club. In full:
Dear Sir, I find that you will be booked the Sun. we will be going through your town June 20th but we can play you a week day, as we leave here May 23rd and will be down there all week going to Logansport, Ind. for the following Sunday playing our way to Louisville, Ky, then is when we will be coming through our town going to Iowa where we will be all season, If you can arrange to change your games we will play you the 20th of June our Sunday Terms are Guarantee $75.00 %50 of the gross receipts as Sunday is about the only good day we have. Yours Truly, W. S. Peters [signed].
Both Peters' signature and the date are written in blue ink, with the signature grading "7." Research indicates that J. V. Brasfield was the president of the Henry Greys, an independent baseball team located in Henry, Illinois, twenty miles southwest of Chicago. The colorful letterhead proclaims that The Chicago Union Giants are the "Oldest Colored Team On The Road/Our 36th Season." If so, then the team was founded in 1879. One would certainly expect Wiliam. S. Peters to know the club's history, for he was not only the owner and president of The Chicago Union Giants, but a former player as well. Peters joined the club as a first baseman in 1887. By 1890 he was managing the team. In 1901, when owner Frank Leland merged The Chicago Union Giants with the Columbia Giants, Peters formed his own club, naming the team Peters Union Giants. In 1905 Leland changed the name of his club to the Leland Giants, at which time Peters then renamed his club The Chicago Union Giants. He remained the owner of the club until 1923. This is an extremely early Negro League letter and one that predates the formation of the Negro National League (the first organized professional league for African American teams) in 1920. Prior to that time, as this letter shows, the scheduling of games was done quite informally, with teams booking games as they traveled across the country. The Chicago Union Giants were one of the more prominent teams of the era and in high demand, as this letter will attest (the club was already well booked three months in advance). Aside from the large collection of Negro League letters that sold at the Barry Halper Auction in 1999, early examples such as this are seldom seen at public auction. This the first Chicago Union Giants letter we can recall having offered. The letter (8.5 x 11 inches) displays one horizontal and two vertical folds, as well as two tiny edge tears; otherwise it's in Excellent to Mint condition. Reserve $500. Estimate (open).
SOLD FOR $1,185.00
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