Yesterday I headed into Boston to attend an auction of baseball great Ted Williams’ personal effects at Fenway Park. My chief objective was to re-acquire a 6 1/2’#3 Spring Creek Special rod which I made to be presented to Williams by fellow Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn as part of a tribute he was arranging. I was also hoping to pick up any other interesting angling items provided that they wound up in my price range. There were a number of great books as well as a goodly amount of tackle that Williams had used or that had been given to him by various friends and acquaintances.
One thing that especially caught my eye was lot #528 which was listed as a collection of two vintage Ted Williams wooden fly rods. One was a salmon rod with no equal sections and no maker name which I personally didn’t find that interesting. The other, however, was fascinating. It was an H.L. Leonard black bass rod with the owners initials and a date of 1904. The initials were “G.M.L. La.B.” and of course alarm bells started going off in my head instantly. George La Branch! Now what was Ted doing with this rod? Obviously he knew who La Branch was since he had a strong sense of fishing history. It would be fascinating to know the history of how he came to acquire it and what the journey had been to that point.
Unfortunately, the lot sold for more than I was able to put into it but I began to wonder if the purchaser had any idea of what exactly he had bought. I worry that he may have just been looking for a souvenir and may be unaware of its historical interest. Anyway, I bring all of this up to say that if the owner happens to be out there and reading this, please please make sure that rod isn’t used to beat the dust off any oriental rugs. I’m sure that the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum or the New York Anglers club would like to talk to you!
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