1918 Baseball-Related World War I Documents
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $3,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:07)
GUEST: I collect World War I memorabilia and I purchased a lot of items over the Internet, dealing with a training camp, Camp Hancock, which is in Augusta, Georgia. I didn't have sleeves to put them in when I got them, so I waited about a month or so before I really inspected them. As I was putting them through, I noticed they all pertained to one man, this man at the top here, who was apparently the company clerk of an ordnance company who was in training there at Camp Hancock, and his name was Barnum. And his job was to keep all these documents. This is a morning report. They showed how many men were in the unit, what they specifically were doing that day. Here's the payroll roster. And he kept a diary of the time he was there in June of 1918.
APPRAISER: Now, you were going through these documents and you noticed this wasn't your ordinary company. Was it?
GUEST (chuckling): No, no. I got to the payroll roster and I kept coming back to it because the names, for some reason, sounded familiar to me. Especially the T. Cobb. And if it had said "Ty," I would have recognized it, but it said "T.R. Cobb," and I didn't know what Ty Cobb's middle name was. So I looked that up, I looked up Ed Walsh; I recognized that name. And before I knew it, almost every man in the company is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
APPRAISER: That's right. There are actually seven Hall-of-Famers in this company, including three of the first five ever elected into the Hall of Fame. We've got Christy Mathewson as the officer of the company, "Big Six," one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Then you have Honus Wagner, another one of the all-time greats. Ty Cobb; you have Max Carey. You have Ed Walsh, you have Frank Chance and you have Frank "Home Run" Baker. Now, what were these guys doing at Camp Hancock in 1918?
GUEST: They were there to work with ordnance, to defuse bombs, handling of explosives, handling of heavy weapons and that kind of thing.
APPRAISER: Chemical... chemical warfare.
GUEST: Some chemicals, yes.
APPRAISER: These gentlemen, you know, were enlisted, and a number of them did serve in Europe. Of course, Christy Mathewson was exposed to mustard gas while in Europe and that contributed to his death a few years later in the 1920s. Also Ty Cobb was very close to Mathewson, and they both were in the chemical warfare unit. Very, very dangerous. Remember, these guys were icons, and they weren't giving speeches and signing autographs. They were in the heart of the action. It's a remarkable group of items of something that is basically a piece of history that has really not been delved into and I'm very excited that you brought it in. Now, what did you pay for the whole lot?
GUEST: For the whole lot, which I was buying it for its connection to Georgia, was about $30.
APPRAISER: Now, $30. Well, I think it's probably worth somewhere in the range of $2,000 to $3,000 and at auction, I think it would probably go for more because it is unique, and it's like a mystery. You can delve into this and find out more-- all these guys in the same barracks. Can you imagine what they were talking about?
GUEST: It's great. I would have liked to have seen how Ty Cobb could take orders.
APPRAISER: Now, that would have been interesting to see.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.