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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/3/2021
Modern sports lingo cites a team's most valuable commodity as a "franchise player." To recall the first such athlete, one needn't look beyond the career of Napoleon Lajoie. Deemed a graceful, talented and well-liked player, Lajoie came to define the Cleveland team for which he toiled. Enduring somewhat of an identity crisis after its 1901 inception as an American League team, Cleveland was dubbed the "Blues" for its inaugural campaign and the "Bronchos" the following season. While the team's monikers changed, Lajoie's incredible hitting prowess remained a constant. The Rhode Island-born second baseman's .426 batting mark in 1901 is to this day an A.L. best. So lethal was Lajoie's bat that season that on May 23, he became the first player in Major League history to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded. As if that strategy wasn't the ultimate display of respect, Lajoie's Cleveland team was renamed the "Naps" in 1903. It wasn't until Lajoie's departure after the 1914 season that the city's subsequent "Indians" mascot was adopted.

Graded VG-EX 4 by PSA, one of just four examples of its kind validated by that company. Hall of Famer, in his Rookie Card appearance. Offered here is an exceptionally impressive historical artifact that features the issue's particularly rare and desirable green cardboard mount. Issued by a popular baseball publication as part of the W600 series (1902-1911), the highly displayable, 5-1/4" x 7-1/2" relic features a remarkable civilian-clothed, portrait likeness of the young athlete. The image is attributed to Carl Horner, whose revered poses of baseball’s greatest players were primarily taken during the first decade of the 20th Century. (Horner's works are regarded by many as some of the most imposing depictions struck by any photographer.) Embossed upon the cabinet's mount is the legend, "Sporting Life - Philadelphia - 'The Paper That Made Base Ball Popular.'" The piece's image, itself, is essentially impeccable, with the ballplayer's likeness emanating sparkling clarity and superb contrast. No salient flaws are evident on the item's admirably clean surface, and the mount's corners reveal eye-pleasing, even levels of mild wear consistent with PSA's technical assessment. A blemish-free blank back is an additional superlative attribute contributing to this offering’s world-class manner of presentation. Very Good to Excellent condition, with a truly satisfying appearance that is arguably superior to that conservative, formal assessment.

This super-rare 1902 "Type 1" W600 Sporting Life Cabinet proudly stands as the true Rookie Card of Napoleon Lajoie. Many of the Sporting Life cabinets are extremely scarce, especially the ones distributed in 1902 and designated as Type 1's (additional "Type" years-of-issue are as follows: Type 2's -1903; Type 3's -1904; Type 4's – 1905-1911). In the case of the Napoleon Lajoie "Type 1" 1902 W600 rendering, two different mount-styles were employed: the "standard" (and vastly more plentiful) sepia-toned frame, and the seldom-encountered, green-hued frame, as surrounds the offered piece's estimable Horner portrait of Lajoie. It has been widely and reasonably speculated that just four 1902 "Green Mount" W600 Type 1 Lajoie examples, in total, have been confirmed to exist.

This unbelievably formidable, true Rookie Card of Lajoie is bound to draw comparison to another of the great player's most famous and valuable collectibles: card #106 in the 1933 Goudey gum card release. Even that, renowned and widely hungered-for commemorative cannot begin to match the excruciating rarity or historical cachet of the momentous W600 Lajoie presented here. (A side-by-side comparison of the respective population reports of the two items affirms that Lajoie's true Rookie Card is at least thirty times more rare!)

It's difficult to imagine a more significant and newsworthy, vintage baseball card collectible than this timeless Lajoie keepsake – his true Rookie Card! This "Green Mount" W600 is destined to immediately assume the centerpiece role in one of the hobby's premier assemblies of elite Rookie Cards. Goldin Auctions, with its matchless marketing expertise and consistently record-breaking level of success in brokering the collecting industry's highest-value collectibles, is clearly the ideal venue in which to properly showcase this important rarity!
1902-11 W600 Sporting Life Cabinets Napoleon Lajoie, Cleveland A.L., Street Clothes, Type 1 – Nap Lajoies "True" Rookie Card! – PSA VG-EX 4
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $15,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $109,200.00
Number Bids: 9
Auction closed on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
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