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Lot # 1336 (of 1673)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Circa 1914 Chicago Americans Giants Panoramic Photo Including Rube Foster, "Pop" Lloyd, and Pete Hill

Starting Bid - $2,500.00 , Sold For - $35,250.00

Addendum: Additional research by SABR member Tom Hawthorn places the date of this photo as precisely 1916. We have also learned that the Chicago American Giants played games in Vancouver each year from 1913-1916.

This incredible panoramic photograph captures Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants posing together on field during a barnstorming trip to Vancouver, Canada, circa 1914. The newly discovered photograph was brought into the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) meeting held in Vancouver in late 2007 by a noncollector. It was by far the highlight of a small collection of panorama photos, mostly of local amateur teams and teams in the Northwest League taken from 1910 to 1918. Few museum-quality display photographs of this quality or significance related to the Negro Leagues exist, let alone turn up in such an unexpected manner. Some of the game's greatest stars, for which few images exist, are on this historic team. Rube Foster (elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981), who was the owner of the Chicago American Giants, is prominently pictured in the center, nattily attired in a three-piece suit and sporting a fedora. He is flanked on either side by twelve members of his club, including shortstop John "Pop" Lloyd (third from the right; considered by many to be the greatest all-around player who ever lived, Negro League or otherwise, elected to the Hall of Fame 1977), outfielder Preston "Pete" Hill (first from the left; one of the greatest outfielders of his day, elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006), first baseman Leroy Grant (fourth from the left), outfielder Jude Gans (fifth from the left), catcher Bruce Petway (sixth from the left; one of the top catchers in Negro League history), third baseman Bill Francis (sixth from the right; ranked among the top third baseman in the League during the early 1900s), pitcher Bill Gatewood (fifth from the left), and first baseman/catcher Pete Booker (first from the right).

The Chicago American Giants, founded by Rube Foster in 1910, are one of black baseball's most celebrated teams. From 1910 through 1922 the club reigned as one of the top Negro League clubs in the country, winning every recorded western championship between those years with the exception of the year 1916. Foster, who is often referred to as the father of the Negro Leagues, wore many hats during his career, including that of pitcher (in 1903 he compiled a record of 54-1), manager, and team executive (he founded the Negro National League in 1920). The Chicago American Giants often barnstormed along the West Coast during the winter months. In the early spring the team usually traveled north, stopping in Portland and Seattle before heading into Canada to play a series of games against the Victoria Bees and Vancouver Beavers. Research indicates that the Giants made annual stops in Vancouver from 1913 through 1915. This photo dates from one of those years.

Technically, with regard to composition, this image rivals the finest baseball photographs of any era and displays extraordinary clarity and contrast. The exceptional quality of this photo is not surprising given its provenance. Our consignor received this photo from her grandfather, who, in turn, had received it from his father-in-law, Stuart Thompson. Thompson was a successful commercial photographer in Vancouver during the early 1900s and sold images to a number of area newspapers. In 1954 the Vancouver Sun purchased more than 5,000 of his photographs and negatives before donating them to the city archives in 1963. The photograph displays a few insignificant border tears, and a small corner chip in the lower right. None of those minor flaws, all of which can easily be matted out, detract in the least from its overall appearance, and the central image displays as Near Mint. Any and all Negro League photos dating from the early 1900s are exceedingly rare, especially those picturing prominent clubs and/or players. This is a paragon of early baseball photography and one of the most striking team panoramas we have ever offered. Dimensions: 16.5 x 6.5 inches. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $35,250.00

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