Masters golf bonds of brotherhood made evident in 1949 signed photo to injured Ben Hogan
Delivered to Ben Hogan soon after his near-fatal automobile accident, photo is signed by 97 golfers, writers, employees and Masters Chairman Clifford Roberts, including 10 of the first 11 Masters Champions
On the eve of the 2010 Masters Golf Tournament, with the game trying to regain its footing in the wake of the Tiger Woods’ affairs, a piece of Masters history has emerged that serves as a reminder that no one player, no matter how great their skill or big their transgression, is greater than the collective history of the sport.
A moving tribute to Ben Hogan, delivered to the legendary golfer on the eve of the 1949 Masters soon after his near-fatal automobile accident, in the form of an autographed photo signed by 97 golfers, including 10 of the first 11 Masters champions, as well as writers, employees and masters Chairman Clifford Roberts, presented as part of Heritage Auctions April 23 Signature Sports Memorabilia auction, live in Dallas and online at HA.com.
“The ranks of golfers that get to even play in the Masters are quite exclusive,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Heritage Sports Collectibles Auctions, “and the roster of champions there is one of the greatest, and most tightly-knit brotherhood in the whole of sports. Here we have one of the most personal and moving of all relics to ever emerge from that brotherhood, a clear link to the tradition of the game and the awe of The Masters that makes it transcendent of any player or any time.”
Two months prior to the start of the 1949 Masters, Hogan was involved in a devastating head-on collision with a Greyhound bus on a fog-veiled bridge near Van Horn, Texas. His pelvis, collarbone and ankle were shattered, internal bleeding formed life-threatening clots and damage to his left eye shrouded his vision. Doctors were uncertain if Hogan would ever walk again; none, however, doubted that his golf career had been ended.
“This signed photograph was a ‘get well card’ from the entire professional golf community,” Ivy said, “with an inscription that begins, ‘To Our Friend Ben Hogan, on the eve of the 1949 Masters Tournament we send you heartfelt good wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.’”
Highlights of some of the 97 autographs on the card include some of the most iconic names in the sport’s history, with Bobby Jones, Horton Smith, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Claude Harmon and Sam Snead among the signers the most important signers.
The signed photo was consigned by Douglas McGrath, an employee of Hogan’s. The great golfer gifted the signed photo to McGrath during his time of employment, and it has remained in McGrath’s private collection ever since. This marks the first time that this amazing piece will be offered to the public.
“Clearly this photo was treasured by Hogan, and served as partial inspiration for his miraculous recovery and return to greatness on the links,” said Ivy. “Perhaps more importantly, today it serves as an inspiring reminder of what makes The Masters, and the game of golf, one of the most important and timeless of all sporting events.”