Extremely Rare & "Fresh to the Hobby" 1921 White's Bakery/Tip Top Bread Baltimore Orioles Lefty Grove – "Grove's Inaugural Card!" (PSA Fair 1.5) – Only PSA Encapsulated Copy w/Only 3 Other Known Copies Graded by SGC
One of the most significant and rarest baseball cards extant is the ultra-elusive 1921 White's Bakery Baltimore Orioles Lefty Grove subject that stands as his true inaugural card, with this "fresh to the hobby" PSA 1.5 offering now available for the taking! The only PSA encapsulated copy, this true "1 of 1" keepsake now stands alongside a meager three SGC specimens as the only known professionally graded examples. The 1921 White's Bakery Lefty Grove lineage can be traced back to his pre-1925 minor league playing days. Before the fire-balling southpaw began overwhelming MLB hitters with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1925, he pitched for Jack Dunn's renowned Baltimore Orioles minor league squad for 5 seasons (1920-'24), ably assisting the Class AA International League squad in winning the league every year over his 5-year tenure. Grove would tally an unfathomable 108 wins against only 36 loses in those 5 minor league campaigns with Baltimore, accumulating a sensational .750 winning percentage! Of utmost importance was his first full season with the Orioles in 1921, when he posted 25 wins against only 10 loses to the tune of a stellar 2.56 E.R.A.
It would be his magnificent pitching that would lead the Baltimore team to the 1921 International League championship via their imposing 119-47 record (including a staggering 70-18 home record), winning a minor league record 27 straight games that stood for 66 years. Although the Orioles would lose in the "Little World Series" to the American Association's Louisville Colonels (4 games to 1), their remarkable 1921 season created a Baltimore fan "frenzy" that would lead to various marketing schemes by several manufacturers. One such promotional vehicle involved the renowned White's Bakery Company who decide to capitalize on the team's immense popularity by placing an oversized 3-1/4" x 5-1/2" baseball card of a Baltimore Orioles player in their celebrated loaves of Tip Top Bread. Known copies of the 1921 Baltimore Sun Newspaper ad included a picture of a particular player and specifically stated: "Beginning Today, Gravure Photos of the Entire 1921 ORIOLES TEAM - A Different One Each Day Will be Wrapped with Each Wrapped Loaf of WHITE'S BIG TIP TOP BREAD".
Considered among the scarcest "Regional" issues in the hobby, these "Baltimore only" issued cards were printed on thin stock, with its condition sensitivity justified by not a single PSA or SGC encapsulated copy posting a technical assessment higher than a "VG-3". Until this miraculous "find", there were only 19 known different subjects including Lefty Grove (inadvertently spelled "Groves"), and remarkably, we have now unearthed 3 new subjects that will be part of the 21-card "Near-Set" (less the Grove) presented in the following lot. Regarding the Lefty Grove offering, considering its colossal desirability and value, we felt it truly necessary to sell this world-class gem as a separate lot. Fortunately for collectors, it's "1.5" grade doesn't even remotely rationalize its spectacular eye appeal, with the seemingly timeless Grove portrait image virtually dead-centered between four relatively clean borders. Simply stated, the central sepia pose is aesthetically brilliant, with only a few negligible wrinkles near the two lower borders.
Uniform corner wear is consistent with any VG/VG-EX card and the rather strict technical assessment is most likely due to the blank back's diminutive surface abrasion situated near the upper left edge. Regarding the 1921 White's Bakery Lefty Grove pricing history, we have identified four separate sales including: $27,500 for an SGC 1.5 in 2009; 18,000 for an SGC 2 in 2013; $36,000 for an SGC 1 in 2015 (post-sale this card was upgraded to an SGC 1.5) and most recently a previously sold SGC 1.5 re-selling for $19,200 in 2019. Along with the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth, 1910 Old Mill Joe Jackson (actually issued AFTER his rookie card) and the 1934 Zeenut Joe DiMaggio, most would agree this Lefty Grove offering stands as one of the four most noteworthy "Pre-Rookie" cards on the planet. Who could possibly dispute that notion considering its unquestionable paucity level (only 4 known graded examples), sparkling aesthetics and the fact that Hall of Famer Lefty Grove arguably resides as our National Pastime's greatest all-time left-handed pitcher; with all of these world-class superlatives contributing to its unparalleled stature!
MIN BID $5,000