Ironclad provenance and big, bold autographs make this one of the more enticing Bronx Bomber team-signed pieces to come around in some time. The typewritten letter congratulates a young boy named Frank LaFalce who had recently received the honor of being chosen as mascot for the local Highland American Legion baseball team—with whom the Yankees shared a cordial association.
Like Eddie Bennett, the Yanks' hunchbacked mascot and batboy from 1921 to 1932, LaFalce was presumed to be a magic charm of sorts, as the letter reads, "Master Frank LaFalce, Mascot, Highland (N.Y.) American Legion Baseball Team - Greetings, Frank: Best wishes to you and the members of your team. May you be good luck for them and may you conjure a lot of hits out of the bats you lug up to the plate for the Highland boys."
Babe Ruth occupies the spacious pole position with a fabulously prominent, beautifully executed signature that rates "9" in strength and is untouched by anyone else's pen stroke. The remaining 16 blazers range from "8-10" and feature: John Allen, Walter Brown, Don Brennan, Lyn Lary, Red Ruffing, Art Jorgens, Russ Van Atta, Tony Lazzeri, Frank Crosetti, Lefty Gomez, Lou Gehrig, Joe Sewell, Pete Jablonowski, Bill Dickey, Wilcy Moore and Sam Byrd.
Provenance comes in the form of an accompanying contemporary newspaper column that not only discusses LaFalce and Highland, but also explicitly mentions this very letter from the Yankees:
"HIGHLAND TO THE FORE - Sir: A few weeks ago Master Frank LaFalce, champion fifer, for his weight and inches, of the 156th Infantry fife, drum, bugle and oscarina corps, and son of Volunteer Fireman Jacques LaFalce, of Highland, was elected mascot of the American legion baseball team. Since then he has received letter of congratulations and best wishes signed by the complete rosters of the New York Giants and Yankees. These are to be framed and exhibited in the windows of George Muller's drug store in this, our up and coming Highland, together with a picture of Walt Clark, the manager of the team, giving the boys a stirring pep talk. Sunday last, Mascot LaFalce's ability to conjure hits from the bats he guards so zealously, plus the 'up and at 'em' spirit of the players, due to Manager Clark's exhortations, enabled the Highlanders to send Fairview back to Dutchess county on the short end of a 3-0 score. As Manager Clark so aptly phrases it: 'All my managerial ability has needed was a little luck now and then and let me tell you that with this boy, LaFalce around we're going places this year' ... watch Highland and don't forget I tipped you off. They're in as Ulster county champs."
Despite this prognosticator's certainty, a digitally archived article in the 10/9/33 issue of the Poughkeepsie Eagle-News reveals that LaFalce may not have been enough of a lucky talisman (or talisboy, as it were) for Highland, who ultimately lost the Ulster title to the Kingston All Stars in a championship game attended by 800 spectators at Riverview Field. Incidentally, a second article published a few days later alluded to the close ties between the Yankees and Highland, reporting, "Either Sam Byrd or Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees will attend the annual banquet of the Highland American Legion baseball team Monday night at the St. George hotel."
Condition of the 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of paper is quite presentable with only even toning, customary mailing folds and occasional small dark spotting. This nice state of preservation suggests that if the letter was, as the column suggests, "exhibited in the windows of George Muller's drug store," then such exposure to daylight must have been extremely brief, for neither the signature nor text appear faded in the least. LOA from PSA/DNA.