In a decade that began with a well-rounded roster and resultant dominance for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, the 1930s closed with that same franchise in financial ruin and annually in the basement of the American League. Nearly every component was calamitous. Mack, well into his 70s, took ill for the lengthy parts of two seasons (1937, 1939) and was spelled by his son, Earle Mack. While the club had long-since been stripped of legends like Foxx, Grove and Simmons, names from the ravaged 1939 roster are most enticing to the autograph connoisseur. The offered album page is decorated with (7) potent scriptings from that club; names that, while they don’t necessarily strike a chord in regards to on-field favorites, trump the usual icons for reasons that transcend the game.
Measuring 2-3/4 x 4-1/8”, the crisp, crease-free sheet is endorsed in black-ink steel tip fountain pen. From top to bottom are: Frankie Hayes (“7” strength) a backstop who died in 1955 from an abdominal hemorrhage; Chubby Dean (“9” strength; d.1970); Lena Blackburne (coach, d.1968; “10” strength); Harry O’Neill (“8-9” strength) one of the most fleeting signatures in American sports and culture. O’Neill caught the final two innings (replacing Hayes) of a 16-3 blowout loss to the Detroit Tigers on July 23, 1939. He did not come to bat and was not credited with any assists or putouts. That was the extent of his Major League career. O’Neill then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was wounded by shrapnel while fighting in Saipan, returned to America for treatment and was sent back overseas into combat. On March 6, 1945, he was killed by a sniper in Iwo Jima, becoming one of two Major League players (along with Elmer Gedeon) to die in World War II; Earle Mack (“9” strength; d.1967) Connie Mack’s son who hit a paltry .l25 over parts of three seasons and went 30-60 while filling in for his father at the helm in 1939; Earle Brucker (“9-10” strength; d.1981); and James “Doc” Tadley (trainer; “8” strength).
A pristine piece of history, this treasure comes with a full photo LOA from JSA.