Sorry, this is a bit of a long story…
So I sometimes buy cut autos of Red Sox legends on eBay. An eBay search turned up this so I bid on it:
Then I checked out the guy’s other auctions which included about a dozen really interesting, unique old baseball items, most notably original, presumably never-before-seen photos of Joe DiMaggio. I bid on a few, get outbid on most, no big deal, not something I collect anyways. Checking out his feedback history I see the guy has sold a ton of random old baseball-related items including a handful of cut autos (Rogers Hornsby among them). None of these auctions seem to have much of a story to them, they’re just as-is and he never seems to fetch much as nothing is authenticated.
Well, one of the items from the more recent group of listings was this:
And I won it… For $3.25… a whopping $1.26 more than the opening bid. I figured I knew someone who would appreciate it as a unique gift and the shipping wouldn’t cost me anything as I was already chasing the Ferrell. I don’t know much about these things but I know it has been a loooong time since people spelled it “Base Ball” and figured it would be neat.
They arrive in the mail a few days later. I open it up and admire it. I flip it over and it appears to be blank on the back. A slight angle of sunlight hits it and I realize there had been, at some point, some writing on the back. That is, there is no ink, but a definite impression had been made with a writing instrument. Curiosity gets the best of me and I bring it to a light and start messing with the angle a bit to see if I can make out the writing. There are traces of pencil lead in the indentations, but glare is the main source of information.
The bottom writing, a good bit deeper of an impression than the top, jumps out of me and is not mistakable. It says “C Mack.”
Amazed, I bring up baseball-reference.com to see if there were ever any other C Macks in baseball besides Connie. There were not. I don’t know this ticket stub to have anything to do with professional baseball, however, nor do I know much of the history of the sport in the Scranton/Beaver Meadow/Sterrick Creek area. Logic would suggest it was possible that barnstorming occurred in this area (the Lancaster, PA minor league team is called the Barnstormers, so there’s that).
So I head to eBay to see autos of the famous Mr. Mack and get a sense of whether this writing could be his. I don’t see any where his full first name is not signed, nor do I see any that look particularly smooth as the ticket stub does – as in they all seem to be signed by a very old, shakey man. Still, the C and the M are strikingly similar.
Excited, I try to make out the writing above the rather clear “C Mack”. This is much less clear. It certainly isn’t pushed in with the same force as the original. The first letter looks like a “Y” which leads me to think it was just the bottom signer writing “Yours truly,” or something of that sort. Still, the lesser impression seems odd and although it’s very difficult to make out what the top writing says, it is fairly clear that the handwriting does not match the bottom handwriting.
So from there I start trying to piece together what I can make out from the top part. It’s clearly two words and I’m now operating under the assumption that it is a name as it is probably not C Mack’s handwriting. The second word it seems begins with a “W” and then ends with an “R.” In the middle there’s what looks, to me, like a “G.”
“Wagner?” I think. “No effing way.”
Back to eBay and it leaps out to me that more often than not the “H” in “Honus” looks like a “Y.” Not only that but it’s a very distinct way of writing this letter.
Much of the name is hard to make out. Especially given that the indentation is so light. I’m still not 100% sure on it, but that Y-looking-H certainly makes it interesting.
So, I decided (over a week ago) to send the seller a message asking him if he knew anything else about the item. I wasn’t specifically asking “HEY DO YOU THINK THIS WAS SIGNED BY TWO OF THE GREATEST BASEBALL PERSONALITIES TO EVER LIVE?” but more like generic “Can you give me any more information to trace its roots” type stuff. It has been a week or two since then and no response from him.
Anyways, today I had access to Photoshop and a high-res scanner and decided to create a 2nd layer and make an attempt to trace the indentations on the scan to make this thread worth your while. So, here are the two photos.
If you can zoom in on the “before” image you can make out quite a bit of it, especially the C Mack and the Y-looking-H. In some places the scan does a nice job of showing what I mean while in others I find the scan shows nothing while a different angle shows the same area’s indentation quite nicely.
I realize there can’t be much value in a more-or-less invisible autograph and I’m not sure PSA or JSA would even look at it for me, but I still think it’s really cool.
Thoughts and opinions welcome!