Legendary Auctions is extremely pleased to announce the sale of The Kent Feddeman Washington Nationals/Senators Collection. The nine epic offerings of Washington Nationals memorabilia featured in our August Live Auction Event served as the perfect appetite-whetting taste of the feast to come in Kent’s stand-alone November 28–29, 2012 catalog.
The Kent Feddeman Washington Nationals/Senators Collection
With today’s Washington Nationals enjoying an unforgettable Cinderella season, the original Washington Nationals of yesteryear are more relevant than ever before. Phenoms Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper draw comparisons to forebears Walter Johnson and Goose Goslin. Nationals Park displays historical photos of old Griffith Stadium. For a July 4th “Turn Back the Clock” game, the team even paid homage to the champion 1924 Nats with throwback uniforms, replica World Series scorecards, traditional organ music, period concession prices, video montage tributes, and a special ceremonial first pitch—tossed out by the Big Train’s grandson, Hank Thomas, using an actual game ball from the ’24 Fall Classic.
It’s only fitting, then, that in such a resurgent, renaissance year for baseball in Washington, D.C., the largest and finest collection of elite Nationals/Senators memorabilia ever assembled is reaching auction. The festivities got underway at our August Live Auction in Baltimore, where the Kent Feddeman Collection’s 9 debut offerings generated a hefty total of over $225,000 and an average of $25,000 apiece—highlighted by Walter Johnson’s 1925-31 Game-Used Bat ($66,920) and 1939 Hall of Fame Induction Gold Watch ($56,762). Now Legendary Auctions is proud to open the Feddeman floodgates in the remarkable following pages and the equally impressive February catalog to come.
YOU’VE GOTTA HAVE HEART
It’s been said that “Anyone can love the mountains, but it takes a soul to love the prairie.” So, too, does it take a soul to love the original Washington Nationals.
Known interchangeably as the Nationals, Nats and Senators during a six-decade run from 1901 to 1960, the hometown team of our nation’s capital suffered 33 seasons at the bottom three rungs of the American League leader board, with no less than 10 campaigns in dead last. Hall of Fame heroes like Walter Johnson tended to be few and far between, while talented local stars Joe Judge, Roy Sievers and Eddie Yost languished outside the spotlight. In 1955, the Nationals’ plight was even immortalized in the Broadway musical Damn Yankees, as fictional fan Joe Boyd sells his soul for a pennant and learns an important lesson along the way: “You’ve gotta have heart / All you really need is heart.”
Today, nobody but nobody has more heart and more soul for the Washington Nationals/Senators than Kent Feddeman. Born and raised in D.C., Kent spent every waking moment of adolescence in devotion to his beloved Nats—whether hopping a trolley to Griffith Stadium; sneaking down to the box seats by the dugout; tuning in to radio and TV broadcasts; or emulating his idols, Sievers and Jose “Valdy” Valdivielso, on the Hearst Playground ball field.
Throughout the mid-1950s, Kent’s parents piled him and his brother Dick into their ’53 Buick Roadmaster for Easter Vacation road trips to Nationals spring training in Orlando, Florida. Over time, the family developed a close friendship with Cuban-born shortstop Valdy, who, back up in D.C., would join the Feddemans for dinner at their house, escort the boys home from games, and introduce them to other Cuban standouts like Pedro Ramos and curveball master Camilo Pascual.
But those halcyon days soon faded as tragedy struck at decade’s end: The Nats franchise and all of its diamond heroes abruptly left town to begin a new life as the Minnesota Twins. Their surrogate replacement, the short-lived expansion Washington Senators of the 1960s, always seemed like mere impostors to Kent, who focused attention instead on his blossoming high-school and college pitching career—using the wicked curve taught to him by none other than Camilo Pascual!
Only much later, in middle age, did Feddeman’s passion for Nationals collectibles catch fire. Ironically, the spark came from a Yankee foe: Mickey Mantle. Back during the summer of 1956, 11-year-old Kent had seized a postgame opportunity to jump Griffith Stadium’s sideline railing, dash inside the visitor’s dugout, swipe Mantle’s batting helmet, dodge an equipment manager, and then hightail it out of there by using chair backs as stairs. It had been more of a juvenile daredevil stunt than savvy collecting tactic, and so as Feddeman grew older, he innocently put the helmet in storage and forgot about it.
Fast forward to 1987. Feddeman, by now a successful Certified Public Accountant, rummages around in his attic with a close friend, pro golfer Lanny Wadkins, on the hunt for a set of clubs. Instead they come across Mantle’s helmet. As chance would have it, Wadkins knows the Mick personally and has plans to hit the links with him. So he takes the helmet along and eventually returns it to Feddeman with the handwritten inscription, “To Kent – Nice Catch, Mickey Mantle.” Wadkins also recounted how Mantle had smiled and said, “Hell, I remember that game. We were all rooting for that kid to get away.”
Feddeman was elated—and hooked. He started going to collector shows, getting to know dealers, doing his homework, and buying up all the best Nats memorabilia around, from photos to autographs to advertising pieces to game-used uniforms and bats. And he zeroed in on the franchise’s four high-water marks: 1) The 1924 World Series championship; 2) The 1925 American League pennant; 3) The 1933 American League pennant; and 4) The career of the Big Train, Walter Johnson. Over the next two decades, Feddeman amassed not only the far-and-away best Washington Nationals/Senators collection, but also one of the blockbuster world-class collections dedicated to any single team. He also brought his lifelong Nats loyalty full circle by rekindling his friendship with Jose Valdivielso, initiating contact with the WWII-era Washington hurler Walt Masterson, and striking up a close bond with Johnson’s grandson Hank Thomas.
Now, living in Florida, Kent has decided to part with his treasure trove. “The passion hasn’t left me,” he says. “But it’s time for my pieces to be enjoyed by other people—especially those avid fans and collectors in the D.C. area. There’s an important link and lineage between the current Nationals and the old Nats legacy of Walter Johnson, Bucky Harris, Sam Rice and Goose Goslin. There’s a passing of the torch. I couldn’t be happier that young fans these days worship the Nationals just like I did as a kid.”
That next Nats generation came out in droves for the “Turn Back the Clock” game on July 4th. They savored the trip through time, soaked up all the vintage tributes, and relived what many consider one of the greatest World Series battles ever waged. And just as Walter Johnson’s Nationals triumphed over the New York Giants in 1924, Stephen Strasburg’s Nationals easily topped the San Francisco Giants in 2012.
Nats history is alive and well in Washington, D.C., and nowhere does its material heritage reach fuller expression than in the one-of-a-kind Kent Feddeman Collection.
We are always accepting consignments for our upcoming auctions. To partner with an auction house dedicated to maximizing the value of your fine collectibles, visit www.legendaryauctions.com or call us today at (708) 889-9380.