Signed letter from major league outfielder-turned-preacher Billy Sunday, together with an original cabinet photo. 1) The one-page typed letter, dated March 16, 1922, on "The Charleston Evangelistic Campain" letterhead, is addressed to Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Walter "Dutch" Ruether (Sunday misspells his name "Renther"), who Sunday feels is in need of a temperance lecture. In full:
My Dear Walter: I am tremendously interested in you because you are a ball player and one of the top notchers and some how or other my enthusiasm for the great game and its players never has grown less, even 'tho I don't get into the uniform as often as I used to. I noticed that the papers referred to times when you have occasionally slipped up and let drink get you out of condition. I remember when I played, every now and then some young fellow would appear playing Star base ball but he would only last for a little while and then drop out of sight. Simply because he did not take care of himself. While fellows like Radbourn, McCormick, and Cy Young pitched for years, just because they took excellent care of themselves. I do not know of any one who has more ability than you have, and I can't help but feel a personal interest in you. I believe no team has a better chance for the championship than Brooklyn and when it comes to a show down, winning of a penant [sic] may rest with you. So be careful Walter, cut out the gang, don't let anybody swerve you from a determination to put it over this year. Make your wife a confident [sic] and a companion and take care of yourself. (Sunday has then added in his own hand: and you will win out hands down.). Best wishes to you always. Faithfully your friend, W.A. Sunday [signed].
Sunday's signature has been boldly scripted in black fountain pen and grades "10." While we cannot state with certainty, it appears that Ruether took Sunday's advice to heart because he won a career-high 21 games in 1922. The letter (8.25 x 11 inches) displays one horizontal and two vertical folds, toning, a few small areas of light discoloration, and number of small edge and corner tears, and paper residue on the reverse from having once been mounted in an album. In Very Good condition overall.
2) Cabinet card. The professional studio photo pictures Sunday in formal attire, circa 1900. No photographer's credit or date. The photo (4 x 5.5 inches) displays a few white specks along the top and is otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition. The mount (6 x 9 inches) displays moderate handling wear, including small chips to the corners and surface paper loss on the reverse from having once been mounted in an album. Total: 2 items (letter and cabinet photo). Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $1,000+.