Babe Ruth 100th Anniversary Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 7/12/2014
On May 12, 1917 an overflow crowd of fans turned out to welcome their hero, the great Christy Mathewson back to the Polo Grounds. Prior to Mathewson's rookie season in 1900, baseball players were looked upon as a rowdy lot of drinkers and carousers, tough practitioners of a rough sport. When Christy Mathewson joined the Giants, the college graduate exemplified the meaning of good sportsmanship and clean living that instantly made him the idol of baseball fans all over the country. For the first time in the history of the game, mothers had a sports star that could be held up as an example to their young sons. As the years ticked by Mathewson's famed "fadeaway" pitch propelled the New York Giants to a seemingly endless stream of National League pennants and his reputation as "The Christian Gentleman" was the perfect foil to manager John McGraw's rowdy persona. When Matty's arm, once so potent at putting out fires it was dubbed "The Big Six" after the FDNY's first massive fire engine, started to age after over 370 wins, it was an obvious choice for him to transition to a managerial position. The only problem was where: the Giants had McGraw who had no intention of giving up the reigns. The Giants did their best to accommodate Matty's desire to manage and in 1916 orchestrated the biggest "blockbuster" trade in history, sending Mathewson and 2 other future Hall of Famers, Edd Roush and Bill McKechnie to Cincinnati.

Though he was now at the helm of a rival, appreciative fans and sportsmen came together to purchase a gift that would sufficiently demonstrate the high esteem all still held for Mathewson. Before the May 12th Giants-Reds game - "Christy Mathewson Day" - a ceremony took place and Matty was presented with a massive Sterling silver coffee and tea service. The ceremony was all the more poignant since Matty had just announced his intentions of enlisting in the Army after the season ended. A speech given that afternoon called Mathewson "a man who had set an ideal to the youth of America, which makes him so anxious to pummel the Germans in the interest of democracy." The big, modest right-hander reportedly "blushed" during the praise heaped on him. The following morning The New York Sun wrote a rousing two-column article about Matty's on-field tribute the day before and the silver coffee and tea service that was lovingly gifted to the former Giant: many admirers of The Big Six chipped in and bought him a box of silver to decorate his sideboard…". The next year Matty was gassed during an Army training exercise and within 6 years "The Christian Gentleman" would be dead of tuberculosis.

The coffee and tea service Mathewson was presented with that day was made by Reed and Barton and is in their popular "Plymouth" pattern. The impressive Sterling silver coffee and tea service consists of 9 outstandingly beautiful pieces: 1 11 1/2" tall kettle on a stand (handle slightly loose); 1 7" tall coffee pot; 1 5 1/2" teapot; 1 5" tall 7" wide lidded sugar bowl; 1 3 1/2" tall 5 3/4" wide cream pitcher; 1 3 1/2" tall 4 3/4" wide waste pot; 1 6" long English pierced sterling tea strainer and 1 5 3/4" long Alvin "Bridal Rose" spoon monogrammed with the initials "CM" (small dents on this piece). The whole service is completed with a large 26 1/4" long 15 1/4" wide handled service tray. The tray has been lovingly inscribed with "Presented to Christy Matthewson by his New York Friends, May 12th, 1917". Not taking into account its historical significance and artistic value, the set weighs in at an impressive 188.24 troy ounces and its silver content alone is estimated at $12,000-$18,000.

After Mathewson's untimely death in 1925, the service was passed to his son, Christy Mathewson, Jr. who in turn died young in 1950. His widow, Lola "Peggy" Finch Mathewson, rebuffed several offers to relinquish the service and kept it through her remarriage to famed painter Michael Frary, only surfacing after she passed away at the age of 93 in January of 2014. This piece of baseball history honors one of the game's greatest heroes, an incredible reminder of how Mathewson's good sportsmanship and clean living both on and off a baseball diamond became a shining example for millions of Americans. The lot includes a copy of the article from the May 13, 1917 edition of the New York Sun, Peggy Mathewson-Frary's 2014 obituary and a May 3, 2014 Cincinnati Enquirer article on Mathewson's coffee and tea service. Letter of Authenticity from the auction house that handled the Mathewson estate.
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $5,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $20,145.00
Number Bids: 7
Auction closed on Saturday, July 19, 2014.
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