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Rollie Hemsley

1934-36 Batter-Up (R318)

Ralston Burdett “Rollie” Hemsley (June 24, 1907 - July 31, 1972) played 19 years in the Major Leagues, appearing primarily as a backup catcher, but he is more so remembered for his off-field antics as a raging alcoholic until famously and publicly announcing his association with Alcoholics Anonymous and subsequent sobriety. Originally debuting with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1928, Hemsley worked as a backup to Charlie Hargreaves in the Steel City for 3-1/2 years (1928-1931) before being traded to the Chicago Cubs (1931-1932) and then the Cincinnati Reds (1933) where he backed up Hal of Famer Gabby Hartnett and Ernie Lombardi, respectively. When Rollie was sent to the St. Louis Browns in 1933, his drinking began to spiral out of control. Hall of Famer and notorious teetotaler Rogers Hornsby was managing St. Louis when Rollie arrived and he chastised the catcher on multiple occasions both privately and in the media. At one point, Hemsley was arrested for taking a swing at a cop in Philadelphia and then beaten by the police officers during his belligerent tirade. Hornsby suspended the backstop, but Hemsley would have two very successful seasons in the Gateway City, 1934 (.309/133 H/52 RBI) and 1935 (.290/146 H 48 RBI) earning him passage to the MLB All-Star Game each year. However, after five seasons Hornsby had enough and Rollie was sent to the Cleveland Indians in 1938, at the behest of youngster Bob Feller, whom Hemsley had caught during a 1937 barnstorming All-Star game. Hemsley would become Feller’s personal catcher. But the drinking continued and the debauchery worsened.

But, not only did Feller take a liking to the troubled catcher, the general manager Cy Slapnicka tapped into the love that Hemsley had for his daughter an the need to be a good father and arranged for him to meet with the group of recovering alcoholics known as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). With the help of the 12-step program, Rollie got his life back on track and a year later in 1940, he caught the first ever Opening Day no-hitter in Major League history as Feller shutout the Chicago White Sox and Helmsley drive in the game’s only run. After the game, he announced publicly that thanks to AA, he had been sober for a year, giving the fledgling organization a much-needed boost, but also signaling that he was a changed man. Rollie returned to his All-Star form and played six more seasons with the Indians (1938-1941), the Reds (1942), The New York Yankees (1942-1944) and the Philadelphia Phillies (1946-1947). Twice, he led the league in caught stealing percentage in 1940 (60%) and 1946 (65.6%) and also nabbed a league-high 40 would-be base stealers in 1934. Rollie Hemsley was an exceptional defensive catcher who, despite playing second string for the majority of his career, posted a .978 fielding percentage, a 43% caught stealing rating and amassed 141 double plays and 899 assists. At the plate, the five-time All-Star hit .262 with 1,321 hits, 562 runs, 257 doubles and 555 RBI over 19 seasons.

Condition Census

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
1 NM-MT 8
2 NM+ 7.5
3 NM 7 (9)

Prices By Grade

1934 BATTER-UP 71 ROLLIE HEMSLEY

Grade Most Recent Price Average Price PSA Price Population POP Higher
GEM - MT 10
MINT 9 $600.00
NM - MT 8 $195.50 $220.00 7
NM 7 $81.88 $81.88 $115.00 9 8
EX - MT 6 $66.00 $66.00 $65.00 11 17
EX 5 $75.00 $45.00 7 30
VG - EX 4 $25.00 3 38
VG 3 $14.00 $16.00 4 43
GOOD 2 $16.50 $10.00 5 48
FR 1.5 1 53
PR 1 $5.00 54
Auth 54

Auction Prices Realized

Date Price Grade Lot # Auction House Auction/Seller Type Cert
11/30/2021 $82 7 384517274199 eBay probstein123 Auction 63548595
11/17/2021 $66 6 384491458239 eBay probstein123 Auction 21544030
04/09/2021 $165 7 324015745744 eBay brigandicoinsandcollectibles Best Offer 40724952
07/28/2020 $75 5 273787454673 eBay mangymoose Buy It Now 28609779
05/29/2020 $196 8 383556413158 eBay probstein123 Auction 01042040
12/09/2019 $14 3 163971790149 eBay wahooman1 Auction 90198219
04/18/2019 $17 2 173870526067 eBay mgoblue325 Auction 42846861
04/20/2018 $228 8 81493 Heritage Auctions 2018 April 19-20 Spring Sports Card Catalog Auctio Auction 06158404
06/06/2017 $34 5.5 401335773674 eBay pwcc_auctions Auction 27276063
09/19/2008 $118 7 270 Goodwin and Co. Auctions Goodwins Commons and Masterpieces XVII Auction 11888811
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