I came across this, this morning – a baseball signed by members of the 1919 World Champion Cincinnati Reds. Nobody thinks about them much; they’re the team that defeated the White Sox in the 1919 Series – and all the attention is on the “Black Sox,” throwing the series. People forget that the Reds had a pretty good team that year. They went 96-44, finishing 9 games ahead of the Giants. Heinie Groh hit .310 for them that year, and Edd Roush hit .321. Dutch Ruether went 19-6 with a 1.82 ERA, and Slim Sallee went 21-7 with a 2.06.
How many 1919 baseballs signed by the Reds team exist? Well, the appraiser says that he thinks about five. How much is it worth? Well, this was in 2008, and the appraiser says about $45,000. You can watch it on the Antiques Roadshow website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200704A30.html.
Never heard of him. Interesting bio of him on the SABR website, and here’s how it starts:
Hall of Fame catcher Roger Bresnahan claimed that Slim Sallee “had the best control of any southpaw that ever curved a ball over the plate.” Pitcher Dutch Ruether said, “He [Sallee] is a wonderful pitcher. If I ever begin to learn all he knows about baseball I shall be satisfied.” Baseball Magazine attributed Sallee’s success to “imperturbable calm which nothing can disturb, faultless control, and back of all a scheming, crafty brain wise to all the quirks and twists of the pitcher.”
Despite his talents, Harry Sallee’s career was checkered with training rule violations, fines, suspensions, threats of retirement, and a constant battle with alcohol that eventually ended his life. Further, he toiled in obscurity for eight and one-half seasons with what might have been the worst major league team of the Dead Ball era. Through it all, Sallee was considered one of the National League’s best pitchers.
Ahhh, demon rum.