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1902 St. Louis Browns (vs. Cleveland) Opening-Day Program - Inaugural Game in the American League!
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,422
Rare and historically significant St. Louis Browns program issued for the club's first game in the American League against the Cleveland Bronchos, held on April 23, 1902, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. The sixteen-page program features mainly advertisements, but does include a photograph and short biography of James Ghio, vice-president of the Browns. The lettering on the front cover reads "First Season - American League - Season 1902" and also celebrates the program as the "World's Fair Score Book" (St. Louis was chosen to host the 1904 World's Fair and, like today, the city was already promoting the event well in advance). The preprinted lineups include Burkett, Wallace, Padden, Heidrick, Donahue, and Jones for St. Louis, and PIckering, McCarthy, Harvey, Bradley, Bemis, and Moore for Cleveland. The program has not been scored, but all of the final totals for each player are recorded (runs, hits, errors, etc.) for the game, which resulted in a 5-2 St. Louis victory. The program's historical significance is duly noted on the scoring pages by a vintage blue-ink notation along the top border that reads "St. Louis Browns' First Game In The American League/Wednesday, April 23, 1902."
This is the first example of this program we have ever seen and we cannot imagine that more than a few have survived. In 1902, St. Louis replaced Milwaukee's entry in the American League and thus became the fourth city to host both an American and National League team. Like the other three cities, the Browns outdrew their National League rivals in attendance that year, which further established the legitimacy of the American League. Both their success and popularity that summer (the club finished in second place) probably was a result of their successful raid of the Cardinals lineup, with future Hall of Famers Jesse Burkett and Bobby Wallace jumping to the Browns, along with Dick Padden, Snags Heidrick, Jack Harper, and Jack Powell. The program (5.25 x 8.25 inches) displays a few tiny edge tears along the spine and is otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition overall. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,422
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