Fred Tenney's 1897 Boston Trophy Ball and Game-Used First Baseman's Glove

Sold For: $11,750

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1217

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This significant group of early baseball equipment, all of which once belonged to former Major League first baseman Fred Tenney, is highlighted by Tenney's 1897 trophy ball and one of his game-used gloves. Adding to the stature of this collection is its impeccable provenance: All of the items here have been consigned to this auction directly by the Tenney family and are accompanied by a one-page letter of provenance from Tenney's great-granddaughter detailing their history. (Also saved in the family with these items was Tenney's 1908 New York Giants jersey, which is offered separately in this auction.) Tenney broke into the Major Leagues as a left-handed catcher in 1894 with Boston but was later moved to first base in 1897. With the exception of a brief two-year stint with the Giants (1909-1910), Tenney played his entire career in Boston, retiring in 1911 with a lifetime .294 average. He also managed the Braves from 1905 through 1907, and again in 1911. Following his playing career he joined the staff of the The New York Times as a contributing baseball columnist. He passed away in 1952. 1) Fred Tenney's 1897 Boston Beaneaters Trophy Ball. The most significant item offered here is this trophy ball. Though we have seen many trophy balls dating from earlier years, even back to the 1850s, it is actually much rarer to find a decorated ball dating from the 1890s as this long-standing tradition had largely been discontinued by this late date. The olive-brown painted ball is lettered in black paint: "Boston vs. Baltimore - Sept. 27, 1897." Boston and Baltimore waged a furious battle for the pennant in 1897, with Boston eventually capturing the flag by two games. Boston defeated Baltimore 19-10 in front of 25,000 fans at Union Park in Baltimore on September 27, 1897, in what was both the rubber game of their three-game series and the final game of the season between the two clubs. The win was pivotal for Boston, as it gave them a 1.5-game lead over Baltimore with just three games to play (had they lost the game, Boston would have trailed Baltimore by a half game). Although Boston did not technically clinch the pennant on that day, it was certainly the biggest win of the year for the club. Since Tenney was the club's first baseman, this ball most likely represents the final out recorded in that game, which Tenney later decorated for posterity. Unfortunately for Tenney and the Boston Beaneaters (as they were known at that time), Baltimore took its revenge by defeating Boston in the Temple Cup that fall (which began on October 4th), thus capturing its second consecutive World's Championship. The ball displays light crazing and a number of minor chips to the paint. In Very Good condition. 2) Fred Tenney's circa 1905 Reach left-handed first baseman's glove. The heavily worn glove features a buckle wrist strap on the reverse, adjacent to which is the Reach trademark label. Nearly all of the stampings on the front of the glove have been obscured by wear; however, one can still make out traces of the Reach logo as well as the words "Reach Professional." Despite the wear, the leather remains supple and all of the lacing is intact. One of the most interesting aspects of this glove is the fact that Tenney has written his name on. Although the signature is no longer visible to the naked eye, use of a video spectral comparator machine by JSA Authentication has located the last-name signature "Tenney," in Fred Tenney's hand, on the front of the glove. (The spectral image can be seen on our website and a copy accompanies the LOA from James Spence/JSA.) Aside from both the family provenance and signature, this glove also appears to be a perfect match to gloves worn by Tenney as seen in many photographs. 3) Fred Tenney's circa 1905 athletic equipment bag. This extremely well-worn leather bag, bearing a Reach label, appears to have seen many seasons of use. This is the earliest such item we have ever seen, let alone offered. The bag, which measures 22 x 17 inches folded (49 x 44 inches completely unfolded), appears to be missing a few buckles and displays both small tears and moderate staining. 4-5) Fred Tenney's cleats and belt. Pair of black leather baseball cleats and black leather belt worn by Tenney at some point during his career. Both are heavily worn, especially the belt, which was probably worn for many seasons. 6) Spalding official National League (Heydler) ball with its original box. The ball displays a special "National League Golden Jubilee 1876-1925" stamp on a side panel. The National League's "Golden Jubilee" was officially celebrated at an official banquet held in New York in 1925, and this ball was very likely one of the souvenirs given to attendees, of whom Tenney was certainly one. The ball displays moderate soiling and is otherwise in Near Mint condition. The original box (in Poor condition) accompanies. Total: 6 items once belonging to Fred Tenney. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $11,750

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