Consign Your Best Items with Lelands. We Also Pay Cash on the Spot! Learn More Here.

Nile Kinnick Handwritten Signed Letter with Original Photos

Nile Kinnick Handwritten Signed Letter with Original Photos

This breathtakingly rare and sadly foreboding letter was handwritten and signed by Nile Kinnick -- the fabled “Ironman” of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ “Cinderella” 1939 football team - shortly before his tragic death in 1943 when the fighter plane he was piloting went down during a WWII training mission. Kinnick’s memory is so revered in his native state that in 1972 his alma mater changed the name of Iowa Stadium to Kinnick Stadium to honor the man who single-handedly turned the team around. After a 2-win Big Ten season the year before, things looked bleak when several key players were injured against Michigan, forcing coach Eddie Anderson to devise a simple plan: give the rock to Kinnick. Going the full 60 minutes, 6 straight games, Kinnick would throw for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 31 passes and ran for 374 yards. He was involved in 16 of the team’s 19 touchdowns (11 passing, 5 rushing) and responsible for 107 of its 130 points, as the Hawkeyes knocked off one power after another, creating a national sensation. Kinnick’s flair for the dramatic making of the game-winning play became a habit. The biggie was against No. 1 Notre Dame, when he punted 16 times for 731 yards including a 63-yard boot under a heavy rush pinning the Irish on the 6-yard line late in the game - which many still consider the greatest clutch punt in college football history - and scored Iowa’s only touchdown in a thrilling 7-6 victory. The clock struck midnight when a Kinnick injury forced him out during the last game, a 7-7 tie with Northwestern that cost them the Big Ten title. Still, Kinnick reaped the rewards of his season. He beat out Joe DiMaggio and Joe Louis for Outstanding Male Athlete of 1939, becoming the first football player ever to win that honor, and was awarded the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Trophy and the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy. Though he was offered $10,000 to play pro ball, Kinnick, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa, went into law school and joined the Naval Air Corps in 1941. Kinnick penned the letter to a buddy named Bob Harris on the back of a letter Harris had dropped into his locker on his base with two photos - which are also included here. One photo shows Kinnick standing in front of an OS2U-3 he’d flown with Harris, who is seen in one photo with Kinnick and another crewmate. In the other photo, Kinnick is about to climb into the cockpit. In the letter, Kinnick, ever the humble farm boy, writes: “Thanks for bringing over the pictures. Darned grateful of you - and quite in keeping with your general makeup.” Hauntingly, he adds, “Best of luck if I don’t see you before I leave. Keep that airspeed! Yours, Nile Kinnick.” Not long afterward, he was piloting a Grumman F4F Wildcat on a training mission from the carrier Lexington off the coast of Trinidad. After one successful training mission, his plane suddenly developed a serious oil leak. Since landing on board would have endangered many lives, Nile instead decided to ditch at sea. No trace of him or his plane was ever found. Kinnick’s writing and signature is in black pen, with the signature grading a solid 8/10. The letter is on a 6.5 x 10” sheet that has become a bit fragile and is G-VG w/several areas of damage and light staining and 2 horizontal folds but displays extremely well. 4 x 6” photos are also G-VG w/corner damage, creasing and small pinholes on the top corners of the group shot, which has typewritten identifications of the three men on the back. A great and thoroughly moving collection of personal mementos of a guy who defined the word “hero”. Additional LOA.

Past Sports Card, Memorabilia, Non-Sports Card and Collecitble Auction Items

Other past auction items that may be of interest to you.

1891 Football Noseguard
Turn of the Century "Melon" Football
1964 NFL Champion Cleveland Browns Signed Team Photo
1999-2000 Baltimore Ravens Game Worn Jerseys (11)
Late 1960’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Signed Letterhead
1999 CFL Grey Cup Trophy
1969 Minnesota Vikings Championship Ring
1969 Dallas Texans AFC Championship Ring