Given: Retired contractor discovers rare 1890 Players’ League documents

From Karen Given at WBUR on December 8, 2017:


In March, Joe Tomasulo, the East Coast consignment director for the sports memorabilia auction house, Memory Lane, was in White Plains, New York, for the JP’s Sports & Rock Solid promotion show.

He set up his table near the front door of the convention center — it’s his usual spot.

“A gentleman walked in with his wife, with an accordion file, said he wanted to show me some rare documents that he’s held for many years,” Joe explains.



Joe started thumbing through the documents.

“And I’m seeing John Ward’s name and Tim Keefe and Buck Ewing,” he says.

These names were familiar to Joe Tomasulo. They’re very early Hall of Famers and some of the most sought-after autographs in the baseball world.

“This is a point I can’t stress enough. There’s a handful of those Hall of Fame signatures currently existing in the hobby,” Joe says. “A couple of Keefes, a couple of Ewings. Maybe a few more of Ward, maybe four or five Wards.


“All I’m thinking to myself is, ‘This is a dream, this is an autograph collector’s dream.’ “

But Joe noticed something else about these documents: the team names were from the 1890 Players’ League.

Joe had heard of the Players’ League before, but in all his decades of working in “the hobby,” he’d never come across documents like these. He’s seen a couple of baseball cards, but that’s it.

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Originally published: December 11, 2017. Last Updated: December 11, 2017.