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SAY IT AIN'T SO, JOE
The word from Joe Frazier's lawyer that the ex-heavyweight champion is coming out of retirement to fight Earnie Shavers, most likely in Madison Square Garden, wasn't the happiest news of the week. Frazier wisely retired a year and a half ago after George Foreman, who has also since retired, knocked him out for the second time. It was obvious then that 11 years of boxing had left Smokin' Joe a burnt-out case.
If the New York boxing commission had a capable chairman he would bar Frazier from fighting in the state. But it doesn't even have a chairman, the post having been vacant since James A. Farley Jr. resigned following the scandalous Don King U.S. Boxing Championships hustle on ABC. No one knows when Governor Hugh Carey will appoint a chairman, although the governor, stung by a labor official's criticism that he has been spending too much time in a Third Avenue bar, acknowledged last week he had "work to do." We trust this includes the appointment of a vigorous, effective chairman, not some political hack.
HOLDS NOT BARRED
What's in a name? It all depends on whose, says Charles Hamilton of New York, a leading autograph dealer. If it's Bill Tilden, Bobby Jones or Joe Louis, it's not worth much because, Hamilton says, "they haven't captured the imagination of serious collectors." By contrast, letters from James J. Corbett and John L. Sullivan are in demand. Corbett's bring from $35 to $150 each, depending on content, while Sullivan's go for $150 to $250.
" Corbett wrote a beautiful script," says Hamilton. "He had been a bank teller in San Francisco. Sullivan, whose handwriting was usually sloppy, heard about this, and he started writing a beautifully florid ' John L. Sullivan' that would extend across a page."
Zane Grey's letters on fishing—"real turkeys for a while," says Hamilton—have come back strong, and a particularly informative one on big game fishing is worth $40 to $50. Ernest Hemingway wrote the most valuable fishing letters of all: they command $750 to $1,000 each. " Hemingway's fishing letters are worth more than his others, although he never wrote dull ones," says Hamilton. "His fishing letters are usually to very close friends, and he peppered them with four-letter words."
Hamilton recently sold a handwritten Knute Rockne letter on a football game for $55, and he appraised a letter from Jim Thorpe to Irving Wallace, the author, as being worth $300 to $400. "Wallace is keeping it," Hamilton says. "Although Thorpe lived a long time, he wrote few letters. He did have a beautiful hand. They really taught penmanship at Carlisle."