Apr 27, 2017 - Sale 2444

Sale 2444 - Lot 269

Price Realized: $ 875
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 400 - $ 600
(SPORTS--BASEBALL.) Letters to Yale shortstop Heber Thompson upon his departure for the war. 4 Autograph Letters Signed, each 11 1/2 x 8 3/4 inches on uniform sheets; each torn from a larger album, otherwise minimal wear. The letters are dated not when they were written, but with the author's date of birth. [New Haven, CT], circa April 1861

Additional Details

Heber Samuel Thompson (1840-1911) was an 1861 graduate of Yale, where he had served as shortstop and secretary of the college baseball club. At the outbreak of the war, he enlisted as a private in the an artillery company in his native Pottsville, PA, missing commencement as his company was one of the first to arrive in the Washington. His college friends inscribed an album to be presented upon his departure. Offered here are four of their farewell letters, removed from the album, which offer affectionate commentary on their shared baseball experience--and incidentally on the war. Peter Collier wrote "You attended at the birth, life and death of the Old YBB Club, and during its active life were one of its most able champions. Well Thomas we have had a good long innings and how successfully the tally book will show." Bill Fuller wrote " I have a weakness for the short stop. . . . Our base ball in particular used to bring us every day either on the same side, or as friendly opponents. How we waxed Sixty Two on a certain occasion. . . . You say you have been playing ball with your company the last few weeks in Fort Washington. Well, that's more pleasant than fighting, though I'll risk you for good execution in either." Charles T. Stanton writes "How vividly the shortstop of the 1st nine of the YBBC rises in memory, as I think of our victory over '62 in Junior year. . . . We did not do as well in Senior year (the least said about that the better)." Finally, Henry R. Durfee writes "I shall not soon forget our sharing the glories and disasters of the Yale base ball club."
Interestingly, the Yale varsity baseball team was not officially founded until 1864. This precursor, as suggested here, did not play against other colleges, and died out in 1861. The college had intramural baseball going back at least to 1844 (see the James Brinsmade diary sold at Swann, 30 September 2010, lot 225).