Thrust into the Major League spotlight as a wide-eyed 21-year-old, Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn was none the worse for his sheltered Tilden, Nebraska upbringing. City lights, rustic settings: it made no difference to “Whitey,” as swapped a league-best 32 bases in his 1948 rookie campaign and then eagerly returned to the Midwest for a barnstorming tour. It was on that journey that Ashburn bestowed his 1948 Phillies cap upon a young fan in his hometown. Worn by Ashburn during his rookie campaign, this blue wool accessory features the club’s script-style “P” logo sewn to the front center in red-on-blue felt, a red bill and a red button atop the six-point crown suspension. The interior sweat band is home to a “Wilson” label, and minor separation at the back of the sweatband was likely the site of a since-removed size tag. The item shows heavy wear with color fading throughout, perspiration-induced soiling within and a heavy bend on the bill. Accompanying is an LOA from the cap’s 1948 recipient, who was in a local barbershop when Ashburn walked in with N.L. contemporaries (and barnstorming mates) Rex Barney and Johnny Hopp. The cap’s style, incidentally, was replaced in 1950, the year of the “Whiz Kids.”
Also accompanying is a letter from Mitchell & Ness President Peter Capolino to the cap’s recipient, attesting to the cap’s authenticity. Capolino writes (in full):
”The purpose of this letter is to confirm that you, in fact, own an original 1948 Philadelphia Phillies cap, manufactured by Wilson Sporting Goods Co. The cap appears to be a size 7, similar to the size that Richie Ashburn wore in his rookie year of 1948. The hat is in excellent condition and is a very rare collectible in the world of baseball.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to inspect the cap.”
The black-and-white portrait of Ashburn shown in the images below does not come with the lot; it is for photo identification only.