Classic October 2007
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This 14" x 11" ad sign for the latest issue of The Sporting News incorporates period graphics that are reminiscent of Hal Chase's earlier period as an active first baseman in the major leagues. But the undated sign probably dates to a time that was roughly two decades after Chase's release from professional baseball and his ensuing banishment from any involvement with the sport. Chase was implicated in gambling during the 1916 season by no less a personage than his manager at Cincinnati, Christy Mathewson. Yet nothing came of the charges and Chase continued to play and coach until the end of his 1919 season with the Giants. He was later implicated in the World Series scandal of the same year but was never indicted, and while he admitted to having had knowledge of the event before it happened he always denied involvement. His former wife once admitted publicly that she would never doubt a rumor of Chase's involvement in anything crooked. It was an opinion shared by most who knew the player best and it is the sole reason for Prince Hal's exclusion from Hall of Fame immortality. Even after more than 20 years had passed, the topic of Chase's involvement was still something that could sell papers. So in 1941 Chase finally consented to an interview on the topic with The Sporting News. At this time the former first-sacker was destitute and very ill. Having recently suffered through a bout with beriberi from a vitamin deficiency brought on by living on alcohol, he was also dealing with heart, liver and kidney problems that also stemmed from his drinking. The article appeared in the newspaper's issue for September 18, 1941 and was headlined with: "Hal Chase, Broke and Ill at 58, Recalls Life's Errors, Including His Terrible Boner on Black Sox Scandal." It is undoubtedly this noteworthy article that the sign was created to advertise.
Framed as it now is the uniformly toned sign has a nice minty appearance, with no visible effects near the image or the text. But when removed from its protective presentation there is evidence of very minor wear along the top edge, some minor creases near the extremes of several corners and a light water stain at the lower right corner that ends an inch away from Chase's foot and the bag in the Bixler illustration (partially visible when framed). Still quite attractive and rare, this sign is one of the last contemporary mementos from the lifetime of the man who may well have been the best first baseman of all time.
1941 "The Sporting News" Cardboard Advertising Sign Featuring Hal Chase
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