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1895 Temple Cup Championship Series Program - Bill Hoffer's Personal Example!
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $9,000
Extraordinarily rare and significant program from the 1895 Temple Cup championship series between the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Spiders held at Union Park in Baltimore. In addition to its great rarity and importance, this program also comes with the unique provenance of originating directly from the family of Bill Hoffer, who was the Orioles' ace pitcher in 1895. This program was one of the highlights of a number of personally owned items from Hoffer's estate that came to public auction in 2009, including Hoffer's 1895 and 1897 Orioles uniforms, his 1895 team sweater, and his 1897 Orioles contract. The offering of the Hoffer Collection was one of the most memorable and significant player collections to ever come to auction. The 1895 Temple Cup program has been consigned directly from the original purchaser at that historic 2009 National Convention live auction (at which time it realized $10,800).
From 1894 to 1897, a time during which there was only one Major League, the Temple Cup was presented to the winner of the postseason series played between the first- and second-place teams of the National League. The Temple Cup series was the immediate predecessor to our modern-day World Series. Very little has survived relating to the series, and only a few programs are known from each year. This 1895 Temple Cup program is very substantial, and was obviously meant to be a special keepsake to be prized and saved. The simple cover design of this twenty-two page program, which reads in part "Souvenir - Baltimore Base-Ball Players - For The Temple Cup Series," is deceptive in that it offers no hint of the beautiful images to be found within. Featured inside are full-page studio portraits (each picturing the respective player in formal attire) of manager Ned Hanlon and all sixteen team members, including Wilbert Robinson, John McGraw, Joe Kelley, Bill Hoffer, William Gleason, Hugh Jennings, and Willie Keeler. Also pictured is the club's groundskeeper, Thomas Murphy. The preprinted lineup for Baltimore includes McGraw, Keeler, Jennings, Kelley, Gleason, and Hoffer. The preprinted Cleveland lineup has been covered with an affixed preprinted lineup for "Frostburg." The reason for the affixed lineup is unknown, but it is possible that this program might have been later used at an exhibition game between the Orioles and Frostburg (Frostburg is a college town located near Baltimore). Interestingly, a number of Baltimore Orioles are listed in the Frostburg lineup, including Bill Hoffer (listed as the right fielder), pitcher George Hemming, and catcher Wilbert Robinson. The program has not been scored.
The Temple Cup championship series was the brainchild of William C. Temple, a Pittsburgh sportsman who offered the prize of an elegant trophy cup to the winner of a postseason series between the first- and second-place finishers in the National League. The Temple Cup series began in 1894 and although initially popular it lasted only four seasons before lack of fan support ended its run in 1897. Baltimore was the league champion in 1895, but, just as it happened the year before, they were upset by the second-place Cleveland Spiders in five games. The great equalizer for the Spiders during the best-of-seven series was the legendary Cy Young, who defeated Baltimore three times, including the Game 5 clincher. The program (5.25 x 6.75 inches) displays normal handling wear and there is a small, irregular area of paper loss near the bottom right corner of the front cover. Aside from that, the binding remains intact and all of the pages are clean and bright. In Excellent condition overall. Temple Cup programs are exceedingly rare, and almost all of the few known examples have numerous and far more serious condition problems. This example, which is among the finest we have ever seen, is in particularly spectacular condition for this great rarity. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $9,000
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