As recovery from The Great Depression was underway in 1935, America was a brave new world in the realms of entertainment, economics and, perhaps like in no season before or since, Major League Baseball. While the debuts of Porky Pig, Monopoly and parking meters proved noteworthy, the American League fielded competitive rosters whose collective efforts were timely in the wake of Babe Ruth’s departure to the Senior Circuit. The season’s start coincided with the “Black Blizzards” dust storms that wreaked havoc in the Great Plains. Well, by the time the “dust” had settled in the American League pennant race, no fewer than six of the eight combatants had laid claim to first place. The memorable campaign showcased parity and a gripping pennant chase authored by some of the grand game’s most legendary performers. While recounting the day-by-day diamond events, individual feats and team exploits of the 1935 Junior Circuit campaign, one is prone to awe-inspired expressions, terms and opinions. These, of course, are intangibles whose combined impact falls far short of that rendered by the offered physical treasure: a lengthy scroll autographed by (178) 1935 American League principals.
While mere adjectives, even superlatives, do not do justice in describing this priceless heirloom, “breathtaking” will have to suffice as we attempt to give an accurate account. While it will forever remain unknown exactly who undertook this task, it is a certainty that the scriptings were executed during the 1935 season. And oh, what bold pennings they are! The grand canvas is a thick parchment measuring 37-1/4 x 12-1/4”. The intention was to obtain American League signatures in their entirety and to then present the piece to Cleveland Indians skipper Steve O’Neill. In preparation for this decorative endeavor, the autograph collector (for lack of a name or more definitive term) labeled individual sections with city names (written in black-ink fountain pen) for each American League roster. Atop the piece, a baseball-themed crest illustration is titled “THE AMERICAN LEAGUE – 1935” and the center is home to a batter silhouette, which nicely accents these coveted signatures. Whether gathered at separate venues, occasions or on various dates (all likely scenarios), the black or blue steel-tip fountain pen endorsements trumpet (“8-9”) or better potency throughout! A notation in the upper right corner dedicates the piece to O’Neill, who replaced Walter Johnson on August 4 of that season.
Headlining the parade are the autographs of just about every Hall of Famer active in 1935. Our research has narrowed Mickey Cochrane as the only Cooperstown inductee (among players active in 1935) missing from this magnificent scroll. Highlights include: Indians (24) signatures, with Earl Averill and Clint Brown (d.1955); Red Sox (21) signatures, with Joe Cronin, Tom Daly (coach, d.1946), Rick Ferrell and Lefty Grove; Tigers (23) signatures, with Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin and Hank Greenberg; White Sox (19) signatures, with Luke Appling, Jocko Conlan (rare autograph in an active player capacity), Frank Grube (d.1945), Ted Lyons, Merv Shea (d.1953) and Al Simmons; Yankees (25) signatures, with Johnny Allen (d.1959), Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig (d.1941), Lefty Gomez, Art Jorgens (coach, d.1950), Tony Lazzeri (d.1946), Joe McCarthy (manager), Red Ruffing and Joe Sewell (coach); Athletics (20) signatures, with George Blaeholder (d.1947), George Caster (d.1955), Jimmie Foxx, Connie Mack (manager, d.1956) and Eric McNair (d.1949); Senators (22) signatures, with Bucky Harris (manager), Heinie Manush, John Stone (d.1955) and Earl Whitehill (d.1954); Browns (24) signatures, with Rogers Hornsby (manager) and Charley O’Leary (coach, d.1941). Accompanying is a full photo LOA from JSA, as well as a letter of provenance documenting the origin and lineage of the item. More on our website.
A complete list of signatures reads as follows:
Cleveland the Indians rushed to an 8-1 mark to start the ’35 season and remained atop the league as late as May 5. Signatures include: Averill, Berger, Brenzel, C. Brown (d.1955), L. Brown, Carson, Galatzer, Gharrity (coach), Hale, Harder, Hildebrand, Hudlin, Hughes, Irwin, Knickerbocker, Lee, O’Neill (manager), Pearson, Phillips, Stewart, Trosky, Vosmik, Weisman (trainer) and Winegarner.
Boston the BoSox began the year with a 6-1 tear and held the top spot until April 25. Signatures include: Bishop, Cooke, Cronin, Dahlgren, Daly (coach, d.1946), R. Ferrell, W. Ferrell, Grove, R. Johnson, Melillo, Miller, Ostermueller (d.1957), Reynolds, Rhodes, Ripley, Schacht (coach), Walberg, Welch (d.1940), Werber, D. Williams and Wilson.
Detroit the eventual World Champions, the Tigers endured perhaps the worst start (2-9) before taking over first place on July 24 and never looking back. Signatures include: Auker, Bridges, Carroll (trainer), Clifton, Crowder, Fox, Gehringer, Goslin, Greenberg, Hayworth, Hogsett, Lawson, Owen, Perkins, Reiber, Rogell, Rowe, Schuble, Shelley, Sorrell, Sullivan, G. Walker and White.
Chicago the Pale Hose began to the tune of a torrid 17-7 and remained in first place for most of May. They were in the thick of it until a 1-13 August swoon spelled doom. Signatures include: Appling, Bonura, Conlan, Dykes (manager), Fischer, Grube (d.1945), Hayes, Jones, Kennedy, Lyons, Piet, Radcliff, Ruel (coach), Salveson, L. Sewell, Shea (d.1953), Simmons, Whitehead and Wyatt.
New York true to form despite the departure of Ruth, the Bombers held the top spot for 56 days (May 28 – July 23) but then lost five of six and never recovered, finishing as runners-up, three games off the pace. Signatures include: Allen (d.1959), Broaca, Brown, Chapman, Combs, DeShong, Dickey, Fletcher (coach, d.1950), Gehrig (d.1941), Glenn, Gomez, Hill, Hoag, Jorgens, Lazzeri (d.1946), Malone (d.1943), McCarthy (manager), Murphy, Rolfe, Ruffing, Ryan (d.1959), Saltzgaver, Selkirk, Sewell (coach) and Tamulis.
Philadelphia Athletics one of only two teams to never occupy first place that year, the A’s, just four years removed from dynasty status, started 2-11 and finished dead last. Signatures include: Benton, Berry, Blackburne, Blaeholder (d.1947), Caster (d.1955), Cramer, Doyle (d.1951), Eaves, Finney, Foxx, Higgins, Huckleberry, Johnson, Lieber, Mack (manager, d.1956), Marcum, McNair (d.1949), Newsome, Richards and Warstler.
Washington with a 2-0 start, even the Senators held first-place bragging rights (albeit briefly) in ’35. Signatures include: Altrock (coach), Bolton, Coppola, Estalella, Hadley, Harris (manager), Holbrook, Kerr, Kress, Kuhel, Linke, Manush, Miles, Myer, Newsom, Pettit, Russell, Starr, Stone (d.1955), Strange, Travis and Whitehill (d.1954).
St. Louis having authored a league-worst 2-12 start, the 1935 Browns were yet another failure in the turbulent managerial career of Rogers Hornsby. Signatures include: Andrews, Bell, Bejma, Burnett, Burns, Cain, Caldwell, Carey, Clift, Coleman, Hartley (coach), Heath, Hemsley, Hornsby (manager), Knott, Lary, Mazzera, O’Leary (coach, d.1941), Pepper, Solters, Van Atta, Walkup, Warnock and West.