1951 Eddie Gaedel Hand-Printed Questionnaire in Framed Display

Sold For: $705

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1071

Item Year: 1951

Category: Autographed Baseballs/Flats/Photos

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In the field of postwar baseball signatures, the one player usually missing from even the most advanced collections is that of Eddie Gaedel: and for good reason. Gaedel was a "little person" whose career was limited to just one at bat in 1951 before the rules of baseball were immediately revised to forbid players of such small stature. Hired by Bill Veeck to take part in his greatest publicity stunt, Gaedel, who stood three feet, seven inches and weighed sixty-five pounds, appeared as a pinch hitter for the St. Louis Browns in the first inning of the second game of a doubleheader against Detroit at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis on August 19, 1951. After walking on four pitches Gaedel was immediately replaced by a pinch runner, thereby ending his brief Major League career. Offered here is not Gaedel's signature, but the next best thing: an information card filled out in his hand, which includes his printed middle name of "Carl." This card, along with a printed questionnaire (a copy of which accompanies; the original has long ago been sold separately), was originally sent to Gaedel on September 27, 1951, by Karl Wingler, who was a renowned early baseball historian and statistician. As noted by the "Sep 29, 1951" postmark on the return envelope (which also accompanies the card), Gaedel quickly responded. The preprinted card features Gaedel's hand-printed responses to the following inquiries: middle name ("Carl"); birth date ("June 8, 1925"); nationality ("Polish"); color of hair ("brown"); and eyes ("brown"). All of Gaedel's responses have been penned in black fountain pen and grade "10" overall, with the exception of a minor smudge to the word "Polish." The card (4.75 x 2.5 inches) displays a staple hole and corresponding tiny tear (no paper loss) in the upper right corner and is otherwise in Excellent condition. The card is mounted together with the original mailing envelope (8.25 x 4 inches; Vg, with foxing, small tears, and written notations by Wingler), a modern black-and-white photo (9 x 7.5 inches) of Gaedel at the plate during his one official Major League at bat, and a copy of the original Associated Press caption for the photo. (Gaedel's return address on the envelope, which is just his name, is typed.) Gaedel was notorious for his surly disposition and was rarely interested in even talking to fans, let alone signing for them. That fact that he died of a heart attack in 1961, ten years after his historic Major League appearance, further explains why Gaedel signatures are virtually nonexistent today, with literally fewer than ten examples known. The only Gaedel signature Robert Edward Auctions has ever handled (signed photo) appeared as Lot 483 in our April 2005 sale, where it realized a final sale price of $6,960. This example may be as close as a collector can possibly get to a formal signature. One of the few Gaedel items in existence, it is all the more noteworthy due to its outstanding provenance (we have seen many Wingler questionnaires over the years; he was an extremely well known pioneer in baseball research and prolific in his acquiring player information) and, ideally, dates just one month after his appearance with the Browns. Framed to total dimensions of 17. 5 x 21.5 inches. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $705

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