October 2009 Auction
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 10/7/2009
It is one of the most celebrated and iconic images in the vast canon of baseball cards and baseball photography dating back 150 years to the dawn of our "national game." It is the second-most coveted card from the most popular set ever produced, ranking behind only the world famous T206 Wagner. It is one of the hobby's finest examples of the mesmerizing Walter Johnson "Portrait" variation on record at PSA. Recently graded NM/MT 8 from the Newport Beach grading authority, the presented jewel is 1 of just 8 total specimens to make the grade, with just 6 grading higher, from well over 550 submissions encompassing all back variations. A prominent card among PSA's Top 200 Sportscard in the Hobby, the T206 Johnson "Portrait" showcases the legendary twirler and eventual 2-time MVP award winner in the infancy of his 21-year Hall of Famer career. Johnson's fiery orange hair contrasts sharply with his pale, slate eyes to exude an innocent countenance of humble origins, a look familiar to all legends before their years of dominance. Beginning his career with 14 appearances in 1907, the 1909-11 T206 is considered by most collectors to be Johnson's rookie issue, sharing this distinction with the T204 Ramly issue of the same year and predated by only postcard issues from the Novelty Cutlery and Charles Rose Companies. After respectable performances in 1908 and 1909, Johnson would inspire fear and dominate batters throughout the 1910s, posting an improbably sub 2.00 ERA in every season but 1917. In his first MVP season of 1913, he would put together one of the most impressive seasons on the mound ever recorded, posting a 36-7 record with a 1.14 ERA, the sixth lowest season average ever, and a record for having pitched over 300 innings, which has since only been broken by Bob Gibson with his 1.12 average in 1968. Sadly, Johnson would still own the record if not for a poor managerial decision by Clark Griffith, who traditionally put on a farce game for fans attending the last game of the season. Johnson played centerfield that day until he was called in to pitch. He gave up two cheap hits before being yanked by Griffith, who replaced his workhorse hurler with, of all players, his catcher! Both runners eventually scored, and although the official scorekeeper initially ignored the game, Johnson was eventually charged with both runs, unfortunately raising his ERA from 1.09 to 1.14. Sad, but true. The presented T206 "Portrait" example offered here not only ranks among the finest 14 examples known to PSA, but it's also one of the finest of the scant 8 examples in its class. Near perfectly centered with NM/MT to NM/MT+ corners between NM/MT edges around two exceptionally bold and clean NM/MT or better surfaces. Advanced high-end hobby royalty here, folks! Only a strong bid will take her home!
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