September 28, 2012
Artifact: Souvenir Baseball signed by the St. Louis Cardinals
Date: ca. 1938-1939
Significance: This artifact may not be important in terms of Lutheran history, but it is significant to baseball fans. It is signed by three members of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame: Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter. The baseball was given to the Institute by the widow of Dr. Theodore Graebner, a long-time professor at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. While this baseball may not be related to LCMS history by anything beyond being once owned by a seminary professor, there are synodical ties to Major League Baseball. Bill “Wamby” Wambsganss (famous for executing the only unassisted triple plan in World Series history in 1920) and Max Carey, for example, were two former seminary students who became professional baseball players.
About the baseball: The ball is a Spalding Official National League baseball that has the signature of Ford C. Frick, president of the National League, on it. It is signed by seventeen St. Louis Cardinals players. We were able to determine sixteen signatures from looking at lists of the 1938 and 1939 rosters and comparing some to signatures on baseball cards. One, however, was not clear enough to match. From the signatures we were able to date the baseball to a two-year time frame. Enos Slaughter did not join the Cardinals until the 1938 season, and Paul Dean left after the 1939 season.
|A. M. [Mickey] Owen
|Frank [Creepy] Crespi