Sunday, September 6, 2015

My century-old family baseball heirloom

My family of my parents generation were not collectors. I suppose it was the result of coming into adulthood during the Depression.

Having been in the hobby publishing business from 1974-2010, I came to believe that a person either was born with the collecting gene or would have no interest.

It must be a recessive gene, since I'm the only one of six siblings that did more than dabble in coins, baseball cards, etc.

Thus I was never disappointed that there was nothing to pass down to my hands from earlier generations.

I was therefore surprised and delighted some 25 years ago when my Aunt Corrine handed me an eminently collectible baseball postcard that she had found while consolidating her household in preparation for moving into an apartment.

It was even more meaningful because the postcard had been mailed in 1910 to  Theo. Freund in Malone, Wis. Freund was my mother's surname. I'm unsure how Theo was related to my grandfather, possibly a cousin. 

Actually, I know nothing of Theo Freund, and anybody in the family who would know has passed.

My dad told me once that he believed Theo Freund to have been "slow" and that he liked baseball, the latter of which probably accounts for the subject matter on the front of the post card.

In 1910 he was living in Malone, Wis., in the area east of Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac County known as "The Holyland." That fits what I know of my grandfather's relatives a century ago.

Nor do I know anything about the post card's sender, John Bassel (if I'm reading his signature correctly), in Chicago at the time. Bassel's mention of "Uncle Jake Polzean" (more likely Polzin), also draws a blank.

The whole of the message to Theo Freund is:

Chicago, Nov. 19-10
Hello. Theo.
Received you(sic) postal some time ago. How is every body getting along. Where is Uncle Jake Polzean. Let me know where he is at. Am getting along fine. Hope to hear from you.
Good Bye. John Bassel.
3824 Drake Ave.

A Google map search shows that address to be a three-story, hip-roofed residence that may well have been a boarding house in 1910. The house is little more than a block north of Waveland Ave., not too many blocks east of Wrigley Field.

Wrigley, of course, wasn't around in 1910, the Cubs played their home game at West Side Park, about three miles south and west of Wrigley.

I like to think that Bassel picked up this post card while attending the World Series against the Philadelphia A's. Maybe he was there for Game 5, when Mordecai Brown defeated Chief Bender 4-3 for the Cubs' only win of the Series.

The 5-1/2" x 4" divided-back post card was published by Burke and Atwell, which firm produced a similar card for the 1910 A's. It was locally printed by F.J. Lupp.

A couple of examples have appeared on the market in recent years, and sales indicate a value in the $300-500 range.

Despite the fact that I'm in a divestment mode right now, selling the last of my life-long collection of baseball cards and collectibles, I believe I'll keep this post card.


  1. Theodore Freund born Nov. 20, 1884. The son of John (born in Germany) and Elizabeth Freund. Had at least 9 siblings. In 1900, 1910 & 1920 living with his parents in Taycheedah, Fond Du Lac, Wis. Sept 1918 on WWI draft registration address given as R. No.1 Malone, Wis. He was unemployed and physically unable to work. No census listing found for 1930 or 1940. In Apr 1942 on WWII draft registration he gives address as County home, Fond Du Lac, Wis. Under obvious physical characteristics it lists paralyzed left side. 5'4" 140 lbs.
    Social Sec # issued in Wis in 1965. Died April 1968. Last residence 54935 Fond Du Lac, Wis.

  2. Wow! Thanks so much for the research. I appreciate knowing more about this relative.

  3. According to my grandfather's obituary, Theo Freund was my great-uncle, born a year after by grandfather.


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