2015 Cincinnati All-Star auction features fascinating baseball correspondence

Letters from umpire turned folk artist George Sosnak. (Courtesy Hunt Auctions)
Letters from umpire turned folk artist George Sosnak. (Courtesy Hunt Auctions and Invaluable.com)

The 2015 All-Star Game proves it. The “official” auction proclaims baseball letters as true collectibles.

Once, something like a cancelled check was seen only as a substitute way of getting a real signature.

Now, the world sees letters as proof that baseball personalities are people, too. Two people connecting over a team, a moment…a chapter of baseball history.

The first two lots come from the family of Herb Carneal. A Ford Frick-winning broadcaster, Carneal announced Minnesota Twins games from 1962-2006. 

Johnny Pesky’s military service, and his value to the Red Sox, are documented in a batch of signed correspondence.

The most fascinating lot surrounds minor league umpire and folk artist George Sosnak. Sosnak’s painted baseball’s are legendary. Here, collectors can see him big-name support for his art. A wonderful Facebook group of collectors of Sosnak art offers a great introduction to his creations.

Online pre-bidding ends tonight (Monday, July 13) at 10 p.m. EST. Check the site for prices realized.

And, realize that those baseball letters you’re getting will have lasting value, too!

 

John or Johnny Moses?


To get a memory, you need to give a memory.

In 2002, I sent a recollection to outfielder John Moses. Not an autograph request. Just a letter of thanks.

He rewarded me with an autographed card — and much more.

I attended several games in Seattle’s Kingdome in 1992. The former Twin had joined the Mariners. Or had he?

The first time I read his name on the scoreboard, I paused. JOHNNY Moses?

Was this his idea? Did the M’s think a new start needed a new name? I suspected that someone might have thought a younger first name might add some speed or vigor to a veteran’s comeback.

I didn’t want to accuse Moses or the team of some sneaky plot. After all, I noted that my Aunt Bernice refused to call me “Tom.” Although I endured being called “Tommy,” I still felt like a Tommy at age 41.

Moses wrote back!

“Tom —

Don’t worry. My Mom called me ‘Johnny’ for 47 years now. And it has never bothered me. I was always known as ‘Johnny Mo’ around the baseball field.

Remember the great names:

Johnny Bench
Tommy Davis
Johnny Pesky
Tommy Helms

also

JOHNNY Moses

Take care.

Sincerely,
Johnny Moses”

As proof of his dual identity, he signed his 1991 Score “John” card “Johnny Moses.”

Yankees Reliever Bob Kuzava: The FIRST White Rat

Bob Kuzava pitched just four years for the Yankees. The Brooklyn Dodgers must have thought the lefty would be there haunting them for decades.

The reliever earned seventh-game World Series game saves in 1951 AND 1952, guaranteeing the Yanks consecutive championships. Teammates called Kuzava “Sarge,” out of respect for the position he rose to during three years of military service during World War II.

That wasn’t Kuzava’s only nickname. He wrote:

“John Pesky hit a slow ground back to me, and instead of swearing at me, he said, “You White Rat!” It broke up both benches.”

(Years later, Pesky would encounter a rookie named Dorrell Everett Herzog. Thinking he looked like Kuzava, Pesky loaned “The White Rat” nickname. Soon, Herzog was named “Whitey,” on his way to a Hall of Fame managerial career.)

“Sarge” found immediate success in the majors after the war ended. He added:

“I was 3 years in the Army, and no baseball. Too hot in India and Burma. Was happy at New York and think I did a good job for them.

Yours in baseball,
Bob Kuzava, New York Yankees, 1951-54″

Kuzava’s relief artistry has been apppreciated beyond the realm of Yankees fans. In 2003, he was enshrined in the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.

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