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Historic 1890’s Baltimore/Temple Cup Artifacts Added To Legendary’s Summer Live Auction

Legendary Auctions is pleased to announce that the company has been selected to handle the extraordinary Baltimore Championship-era relics that once belonged to that singular figure, Bill Hoffer. Several especially significant items from these holdings will be presented during this summer’s Legendary Live auction event, and other important pieces will be offered in our August 2009 sale. Two weeks left to consign items to Legendary’s Live Auction to be held at the House of Blues in Cleveland – Friday, July 31st. Your items will be in good Company.

In 1892, team manager and future Hall of Famer Ned Hanlon took over the reigns of the National League’s Baltimore Orioles, one of the circuit’s perennial doormats. In just two short years, he molded the club into the strongest franchise ever seen in the sport, and he built a dynasty that commanded a mystique which would remain unrivaled until the rise of the ’27 Yankees. Foxy Ned’s club won three consecutive League titles and two Temple Cup championships between the years 1894-1897, and in doing so revolutionized the game with a precise and disciplined style of “inside” baseball. The Orioles, under Hanlon’s guidance, were the epitome of team play, mastering the techniques of the hit and run, the squeeze play, and baserunning to a level never duplicated before or since. Of the many top players coached by Hanlon during that championship era (including the likes of John McGraw, Hughie Jennings, Dan Brouthers, Joe Kelley and Willie Keeler), the athlete Hanlon considered to be the most valuable was right-handed pitcher Bill Hoffer. During the three-year period of 1895-1897, Hoffer compiled a 78-24 record — including 31 wins in 1895 — and twice led the League in winning percentage. Hoffer would have been an annual Cy Young Award shoo-in (if the Award’s namesake hadn’t still been active at the time!) and he was clearly the man with whom Hanlon entrusted the ball during the biggest of games.

Legendary Auctions is pleased to announce that the company has been selected to handle the extraordinary Baltimore Championship-era relics that once belonged to that singular figure, Bill Hoffer. Several especially significant items from these holdings will be presented during this summer’s Legendary Live auction event, and other important pieces will be offered in our August 2009 sale.

The gravity attached to the emergence of awards, game used artifacts, game worn equipment and paper antiques hailing from the arena of 19th Century baseball simply cannot be overstated. Many years before the advent of the organized collecting hobby, and long predating the now-routine measures of careful preservation, the survival of such pieces involved a confluence of factors that virtually never occurred. These relics, however, have remained in the sole possession of Bill Hoffer’s descendants for more than a century, and their condition to the present day reveals the family’s pride in their descendant’s storied accomplishments. To document provenance, and to perpetuate the chain of care associated with Hoffer’s items, each piece will be accompanied by an LOA from the family.

Just a few of this incredibly meaningful collection’s highlights:

Game Worn Baltimore Uniforms – two sets of shirt and pants, along with representative pieces that allow the viewer to see the time’s style in uniform belts, shoes, stirrups and accessories.

Game Worn Baltimore Sweater – an absolutely splendid garment! The heavy, top-quality apparel piece is distinguished by vivid colors, most notably the bright-orange hue that has remained a Baltimore hallmark.

Ned Hanlon Signed Player Contract – a Baltimore Orioles player contract, which has been signed on the interior by Ned Hanlon. The legal agreement between the “Baltimore Base Ball and Exhibition Company” and “H.L. Hoffer” calls for Hoffer to receive a yearly salary, payable in semi-monthly installments, and has been boldly signed “E. Hanlon” in fountain pen. Pre-1900 player contracts are exceedingly scarce and are rarely, if ever, found in such high-quality condition. Additionally, the signature of Ned Hanlon, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996, represents one of the “Holy Grails” for autograph collectors, as the opportunity to acquire authentic signature examples of Foxy Ned are normally few and far between.

Significant Game Winning Balls – including a game ball — used by Hoffer in the game that clinched the 1895 Pennant for Baltimore, and inscribed by him — as well as an 1897 game ball inscribed by Hoffer (with a photo of the very game in which the ball was used, showing Baltimore vs. Boston — and the field packed with 18,000 cheering fans!)

1895 Imperial Cabinet Team Photo – a phenomenal image presented in a rare, premium style, this antique is formed by the attachment of an 11″ x 14″ photograph to a 16″ x 20″ thick-cardboard mount. The names of individual participants have been recorded for posterity on the cabinet’s mount.

Temple Cup Series Memorabilia – especially significant as emanating from the forerunner to the 20th Century’s World Series Championship contests, Temple Cup items are deservedly prized and eagerly sought-after. Among these items is a Championship Game programs and an ornate banquet program commemorating the 1895 Championship Team.

Bill Hoffer’s Personal Copy of Baseball’s “Constitution” – This small but powerful paper relic formally articulated the Rules and Regulations governing the game in its early years. Very few examples of this vintage publication are known to have survived. In addition to actual “rules” codifying equipment and play, the book devotes much attention to the sport’s organizational structure and hierarchical arrangements.

The presence of these outstanding baseball foundation pieces will contribute immensely to an observer’s feel for the grand game’s history, and enrich the hobby for succeeding generations. The circumstances that brought the items safely into modern times, and which account for their incomparable condition, afford an almost never-seen window to the National Pastime’s past, and their generally immaculate physical qualities contribute particularly unique character. The material comprising this truly exceptional array allows enthusiasts to share a priceless, once-in-a-lifetime connection with a star of the sport’s iconic 19th Century origins.

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