1951 Ty Cobb Handwritten Letter Lobbying for Harry Heilmann's Hall of Fame Induction (by Legendary Sportswriter H.G. Salsinger)
This bittersweet, two-page handwritten letter was penned by baseball legend Ty Cobb, petitioning a writer of the Sporting News to help elect Harry Heilmann to the Hall of Fame. Heilmann, a former teammate of Cobb's on the Detroit Tigers for many years, was battling lung cancer at the time, and in the letter Cobb mentions that Heilmann is "very sick." Though Cobb's plea was ultimately answered, it was too late for Heilmann, who died six weeks after the letter was written and was inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously in 1952. Heilmann's induction into the Hall wasn't purely charity, the "Slug" was a four-time AL batting champ and finished with a career .342 batting average. In the letter, Cobb names him the "second best right hand hitter in my span of years." The letter is written on Cobb's own stationary and is dated 5/24/51. It is penned in 9/10 green ink and is signed by Cobb at the end. It has been mounted and framed to 15x19" and comes with a JSA LOA.
Note: According to client Craig Wright: The “Sal” in Cobb’s “Dear Sal,” is H.G. Salsinger. At the time of the letter, he was the sports editor of The Detroit News and a notable figure in sports writing in that era. He was one of the longest serving sports editors of any paper, holding that post for 49 years and over his long career he covered 50 World Series. Westbrook Pegler hailed Salsinger as “the best sportswriter in the country.” He served as the President of the BBWAA in 1934, was posthumously awarded the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing, and is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
The work of Salsinger’s that Ty refers to in the letter was a long series of articles on Cobb that appeared in the recently released 1951 Baseball Register published by The Sporting News. Perhaps spurred by Cobb’s letter, Salsinger wrote a strong column supporting Heilmann for the Hall of Fame less than two months after the date of Cobb’s letter. Adding to the authenticity of this lot, Salsinger appears to use this letter as a source for that column when he wrote: “Ty Cobb called him one of the best two righthanded hitters in the history of baseball.” That’s actually a slight exaggeration as Cobb wrote that about Harry in reference to the span of Ty’s career, not the history of baseball. Salsinger did team up with well known baseball writers Joe Williams (NY Times) and Dan Daniels (NY Telegram) to organize a movement that got Harry elected to the Hall.