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1908 Dickey Pearce Cabinet Card - Elmer Chickering Studios Photo
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $1,200
Cabinet photo of early nineteenth-century baseball star Dickey Pearce taken by noted Boston photographer Elmer Chickering. The formal studio photo captures Pearce at the age of seventy-two, just shortly before his death in 1908. Chickering's credit stamp appears at the base of the mount. As noted by the hologram label affixed to the reverse, this cabinet photo originates from the Baseball Magazine archives. It first appeared at auction as Lot 7 in the historic 1996 two-day sale of the Baseball Magazine archives by Christies in New York. Vintage pencil notations on the reverse identify Pearce and also the circumstances of the shoot. In full: "Dickey Pearce - the brainy infielder of the Athletics of '57 as he appeared at the old timers reunion in Boston 1908." The 1908 Boston old timers reunion was held on August 12, 1908, at Peddock's Island, Massachusetts, and was attended by nearly fifty baseball old timers (to view a group photo of the old timers and to learn more about the event see Lot 1180 in REA's May 2009 auction by clicking here). As we noted in the lot description for the photo, Pearce's attendance at the reunion would mark his final old timers' day ceremony. In an article written after the event, Boston Globe sportswriter Timothy Murnane reflected on the tragic turn of events that befell Pearce. In part: "Alas! it proved to be the last Old Timers' Day that he [Pearce] will attend, for he caught a severe cold as the result of the outing, and soon afterwards passed away."
Pearce, who passed away on September 18, 1908, is universally regarded as one of the most important players of the nineteenth century. He began his career with the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1856, at which time he and fellow teammate Jim Creighton were two of the first ballplayers to be paid as ballplayers. Fleet afoot and an excellent infielder, he helped revolutionize the game by basically creating the modern-day position of shortstop. Pearce starred for Brooklyn in the legendary Fashion Course Series of 1858, and was called the greatest shortstop of the nineteenth century by no less an authority than Albert Spalding. He is also credited by many today with introducing the bunt, known back then as his "tricky hit." After a career as a star which spanned over twenty years, including the formative years of professional baseball (1856-1870), all five years of the National Association (1871-1875), and two years in the National League (1876-1877), Pearce later umpired in the Major Leagues. Many historians consider Pearce worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame. The cabinet (4.25 x 6.75 inches) displays only minor surface wear and is in Excellent condition overall. Reserve $200. Estimate $500+.
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