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Lot # 34: 1914 Correspondence Between The National Baseball Commission and Colonel Tillinghast Huston Re: Acquisition of the New York Yankees - Huston Ridicules the Team and Recommends Leaving The Polo Grounds (ex-Barry Halper Collection)

Starting Bid: $1,000.00

Bids: 13 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed




This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Winter Focus 2023",
which ran from 1/29/2023 7:00 PM to
2/11/2023 10:00 PM



Incredible collection of documents from The Collection of Barry Halper with relation to the acquisition of the New York Yankees in 1914. A total of (5) items form this mini archive and each gives us a behind-the-scenes look into the mind of Colonel Huston as he was considering the purchase of the team with Jacob Ruppert. The content found in the letters is incredible, with mentions of ridicule to mentions of how to turn the team around. Each document was executed in November of 1914, two months before Huston and Ruppert announced their acquisition of the Yankees in January of 1915. A complete detail of each document follows:

1) Two page letter from secretary of The National Baseball Commission and attorney to American League President Ban Johnson, John Eldridge Bruce, to Colonel Tillinghast Huston on November 23rd of 1914. Bruce signed the second page of the letter and it has been encapsulated by PSA. His handwriting is also visible on first page, including quotations over "Yankees". He mentions in first paragraph "I was greatly pleased to receive your letter of November 21st, relative to the possibility of your being associated with Colonel Ruppert in acquiring the New York American League Club." Later in the paragraph he writes, "I believe a good thing can be made out of the "Yankees". The Yankees officially changed their name from "Highlanders" to "Yankees" in 1913, thus making this letter one of the earlier documented mentions of the Yankee name.

2) Typed letter from Colonel Huston's office to John E. Bruce, dated November 24, 1914. Opens mentioning: "The situation regarding the purchase of the Yankees has resolved itself into one involving new grounds, as distinct from the polo grounds upon which the Yankees are now playing by sufferance."

He then goes to voice his distaste in the Yankees playing at the Polo Grounds: "The present playing status of the Yankees, who are playing on the polo grounds under a year arrangement without any long lease, is certainly an unbusinesslike condition, as they are absolutely at the mercy of the caprice of the National League Club [New York Giants].....We are looking and considering several sites upon which leases may be obtained." The Yankees did not move out of the Polo Grounds until 1922, but it was clearly on Huston's mind long before.

A look into the Huston's financial outlook into purchasing the team was the next topic, reading "The investment covering the cost of new stands, purchase price of the Club, working capital, etc. will probably amount to $800,000, assuming that the Club could be bought at a reasonable price. Right at this time, as you are well aware, it is very difficult to raise large sums of money, and I have been wondering that if we raised half a million dollars, would the American League be willing to advance $300,000."

Huston's ridicule of the team and its abilities comes next: "However, any investment whatever will necessarily prove abortive unless the team is strengthened by at least four first class players. As it stands now the American League Club of New York have very little to sell outside of their franchise. They have no ground, they have no ball club, and they have no manager, and the latter item appears to me to be of paramount importance. It appears to me that the present owners have fully demonstrated by long trial their inability to bring about results."

Second to last, we have Huston's plan to finance the team with Ruppert: "Confidentially, it was Col. Ruppert's idea and mine also that we would each put in about $100,000, and possibly a little more, and raise the rest amongst our friends with the idea that the polo grounds would be utilized, but the desirability of new grounds makes the financial feature one of much larger magnitude, but I think we can raise the money even if the Colonel and I have to put in more personally than we figured on."

To wrap the letter up, and lead into the next item in this lot, Huston writes "I telegraphed you last night for your Cleveland address, thinking I might run over there to see you, provided your business was not so engrossing as to make it impossible for you to give me a little time".

3) The telegraph mentioned above in item #2: Handwritten letter in pencil to John Bruce from Huston's office asking Mr. Bruce to wire Mr. Huston his Cleveland address. Signed "Huston" on the bottom but not in the Colonel's hand. Staple holes on top right, otherwise excellent condition.

4) Western Union telegram from John E. Bruce to Colonel Huston informing him know where he plans to be on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Dated Nov 24, 1914 on top right. Staple holes on top left, with some paper loss to edges.

5) Letter from Colonel Huston's office to John E. Bruce, dated November 25, 1914 in response to the telegram mentioned in item #4. Huston is looking to Mr. Bruce and Mr. Herrmann [Cincinnati Reds President August Hermann] for advice as he considers them experts in their fields. "I had about made up my mind that it would be better for me to wait and meet you and Mr. Herrmann both in Cincinnati Saturday rather than to bother you in Cleveland, and I am glad that your telegram confirmed my judgement (this mentioned telegram is item #4 in this lot!).

This back-and-forth correspondence was part of Lot 560 - "Document Collection Relating to the Sale of Babe Ruth" from the historic Barry Halper Sotheby's Auction, which makes sense as it came from the same lot that contained Lots 35 and 36 in the current Lelands Focus Auction. Truly historic archive related to the purchase of the New York Yankees.

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