WHO: Jeffrey Law Thomas, Topsail Island, N.C.
OCCUPATION: Owner of a pet grooming business
WHAT: A handwritten letter from Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, dated Sept. 16, 1916. The letter was written to Russell G. Law, of Roxboro, and says: "My Dear Friend, In reply to your letter in regards to my nationality I will say I am of Scotch Irish parents. My Father is a full blooded Scotchman and my mother is Irish. Respectfully, GC Alexander." With the letter is the original envelope it was sent in, and a note from Law describing the contents. The letter was written by Alexander a week before he pitched the 15th of his single-season record 16 shutouts.
CONDITION: The letter, envelope and note show some aging but are in generally excellent shape.
HOW IT WAS ACQUIRED: "My grandfather was 16 or so when he received the letter from Alexander in reply to a letter he sent to him. He worked his whole life for AT&T and passed it down to me upon his death in 1980. He knew that I was the baseball freak of the family, so that was why it came to me. It was something I had seen a few times. I was so thrilled to get it. My guess is that ballplayers routinely, in 1916, handwrote letters to kids, or anybody who asked any kind of a question."
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS WORTH? "Oh, gosh, I have no idea. I'm sure it would be worth a few thousand dollars from somebody. Given the historical context, I certainly think there would be somebody who would be interested in having it. But I doubt seriously if I would ever sell it. Maybe closer to the end of my life, if I had no one who was interested in it in the family. At that point I probably would sell it."
WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS: "Very interesting and scarce item. Alexander remains to date one of the great pitchers in baseball history whose tragic problems with alcohol at the end of his life made his signature a difficult acquisition. First handwritten letter I have encountered from that period."