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Lot # 1427 (1427 of 1911)   « Previous Lot | Next Lot »

1917 Timothy Murnane Day "All-Star Team" Photo Including Ty Cobb and Joe Jackson - Stuffy McInnis Provenance!

Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $6,000

Exceedingly rare original photograph capturing fourteen members of the American League “All-Star Team” who participated in the Timothy Murnane Day charity game held on September 27, 1917, at Boston’s Fenway Park. The fourteen team members pictured posing together are manager Connie Mack, Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, Hughie Jennings, Rabbit Maranville, Ray Chapman, Buck Weaver, Wally Schang, Stuffy McInnis, Steve O’Neill, Urban Shocker, and Howard Ehmke. A young batboy and an unidentified gentleman in street clothes are also present in the photo. All of the players are identified on the reverse in vintage blue ink.

The event that occasioned this photo was certainly a sad one for Boston sports fans. Tim Murnane was a former Boston Nationals player and manager during the nineteenth century who later became one of the town’s most popular and respected sportswriters. On February 7, 1917, Murnane passed away unexpectedly, much to the sorrow of the community. In an effort to raise money for his family, the Red Sox and the town of Boston declared September 27, 1917, as Tim Murnane day and held a number of special events at Fenway Park. The highlight of the festivities was an exhibition game between the Red Sox and a team of American League All-Stars. Surprisingly, Babe Ruth and Rube Foster combined for a 2-0 shutout over their star-laden rivals, thus sending the more than 17,000 fans in attendance home happy. The event was also a monetary success, as the game raised over $14,000 for the Murnane family.

This is simply one of the finest dead-ball era photographs in existence, with reference to both subject matter and quality. The Murnane Day game was the second of the two most important charity events of the decade, with the first having been the fundraiser for Addie Joss' family following his untimely passing in 1911. In terms of rarity, however, this particular photo is much scarcer than the more familiar Addie Joss Day panoramas, of which approximately ten are known to exist. While we cannot definitively state how many original Murnane Day photographic prints similar to the offered example have survived, this is just the second we have offered and the third we have seen. (The first example we handled, which appeared as Lot 798 in our May 2007 auction, realized $15,275.)

Aside from this photo and the Addie Joss Day panorama, few, if any, photos exist from the era picturing such a diverse assemblage of stars. In addition to the six aforementioned Hall of Famers, the photo also includes three other legendary ballplayers. Both “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and Buck Weaver will forever be remembered for their role in the fixing of the 1919 World Series, actions that would later lead to their lifetime banishment from baseball. Ray Chapman’s name lives on today, not in infamy, but through tragic circumstances. In 1920 Chapman was hit in the head by a pitched ball at the Polo Grounds and never regained consciousness. He died the next day and his death remains the only on-field fatality in Major League history.

Its rarity notwithstanding, the offered photo also comes with the unique provenance of having one belonged to Philadelphia A's first baseman Stuffy McInnis, who was part of Connie Mack's fabled "$100,000 Infield." As noted earlier, McInnis participated in the game and, as a participant, most likely received this photo as a keepsake. McInnis then later gave the photo to one of his friends as a gift, as evidenced by his black fountain-pen inscription (grading "8") along the base that reads "From Stuffy to his pal Dick." Included with the Murnane Day photo are two additional original Stuffy McInnis signed photos that were also presented to his friend. The first, circa 1919, pictures him as a member of the Boston Red Sox posing with Everett Scott and is inscribed "John McInnis to Richard Geary" in black fountain pen, with the signature grading "9" (6.5 x 4.5 inches. Ex-Mt). The second, circa 1923, pictures him as a member of the Boston Braves posing together with three of of his teammates and is inscribed "Dick from Stuffy" in black fountain pen, with the signature grading "6" (8 x 6 inches. Vg).

The Murnane Day photo (9.25 x 6 inches, possibly trimmed from slightly lager dimensions, though this is just speculation) has been mounted to a heavy cardboard backing and otherwise remains in Excellent to Mint condition overall, displaying flawless clarity and contrast throughout. This is an extraordinary museum-quality display photograph and one of the best early baseball photographs in existence, especially considering the fact that it features the American League's greatest stars and was taken at one of the two most important memorial games of the early twentieth century. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $6,000

(Click the smaller thumbnails to the left and right (if any) to cycle through each photo in the gallery of images for this lot.)