Lot # 2: Impossibly Rare 1910 Punch Cigarros Pete Hill (HOF) - SGC A

Category: Featured Items

Starting Bid: $15,000.00

Bids: 24 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Spring, 2024 Premier Auction",
which ran from 3/11/2024 12:00 AM to
3/30/2024 9:00 PM

Exceedingly rare card of Hall of Fame outfielder Pete Hill, called "the first great outfielder in Black baseball history" by baseball historian Lawrence Hogan.  Hill starred with a number of legendary Negro League teams including the Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants, Cuban X Giants and Chicago American Giants, the majority of his playing years occurring before 1920. As a result, published statistics from Hill are not easy to find, and his name is somewhat less known than some of the titans of Black baseball.  He was, however, one of the all-time greats, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

A powerful, feared hitter, Hill amassed at least 198 hits and ten home runs with the 1905 Philadelphia Giants, based on baseball historian Phil Dixon's research into 133 games with publicly available boxscores.  In 31 career games against major-league teams, Hill batted .327 with a .417 on base percentage.  He was truly one of the standouts of his era, an intelligent and athletic player who impressed opponents and excited fans.

The Punch Cigarros issue is among the most rare and desirable of all Cuban card sets, with very few surviving examples known.  Many of the most advanced prewar and Negro League collections are without a Punch Cigarros card, simply due to their extreme rarity.  The cards were issued in conjunction with a Cuban visit by the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics, the set consisting of players from those two teams as well as the Almendares and Havana ball clubs.  The current known checklist is considered incomplete, with only one or two surviving examples of many of the known subjects.  Complete sets of the cards could be exchanged for an album; it is speculated that this contributed to the rarity of the set today.

The cards were produced on photographic paper glued to a cardboard backing measuring approximately 1 1/4" x 1 7/8".  Of the surviving cards, only a half dozen or so have been found with the backing, the remaining examples - such as this - are all graded AUTHENTIC as a result.  The card has not been trimmed. As is the case with all Cuban issues, the Punch Cigarros cards are extremely condition-sensitive; this example presents incredibly well, with square corners and edges, and a very clean surface.  

Major League Baseball's 2020 announcement that it would recognize seven Negro Leagues as major leagues and adopt their statistics into the official record has had a profound impact on baseball fans; as curiosity and interest in Negro League stars begins to pique, its elite players are beginning to establish their place in the hobby.  Many sales records for Negro League cards have been set in the last year, including the most expensive sale of a complete set ($370,000), as well as the most expensive individual card ($140,000).  As the Negro Leagues' greatest players begin to become household names, hobbyists and investors are becoming aware of the extreme rarity and historical significance of those players' collectibles.  Demand has never been higher.

In the case of Pete Hill, due to the years he made his mark on the game, precious few collectibles bearing his likeness have ever been issued.  He appeared in just two different card sets - the Punch Cigarros issue and the 1909 Cuban Cabanas set.  Based on grading company population reports, at the time of this writing just five graded cards of Pete Hill exist between those two sets. The extreme rarity - few Hall of Famers have less cards than Pete Hill - makes this card an incredible find.

One of the most important early Black baseball players, from one of the most rare and desirable of all Cuban sets.  One of just three examples known from the issue, an incredible card that would serve as the centerpiece to any advanced collection.

Please note: The reserve on this card has been met.

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