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1894 Kansas City Blues Team Photo with "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity
Starting Bid - $200.00, Sold For - $1,185.00
Rare photo capturing twelve members of the 1894 Kansas City Blues posing together in a formal studio setting, the most notable of whom is Hall of Fame pitcher Joe McGinnity. The fabled "Iron Man" (pictured far right, middle row, with his hands on the shoulders of this teammate in front of him) was in just his second season of professional ball with Kansas City of the Western League in 1894. Unfortunately, there was little foreshadowing of his future greatness that summer, as he posted an 8-10 record while allowing 157 hits in 124 innings. Incredibly, McGinnity's early professional career started off so dismally (he was 10-19 the previous season with Montgomery of the Southern League) that from 1895 through 1897 he was unable to find a minor-league team that wanted him. Instead, he was forced to play with semipro clubs in his home state of Illinois. It was during that period that he developed an underhand delivery that helped his ball move considerably. Soon after he was back in the professional ranks and in 1899, as a member of Brooklyn, he led the National League in wins with twenty-eight. McGinnity only played eleven Major League seasons, but what an eleven seasons they were. Seven of those seasons he won 25 or more games, including two seasons of 30 or more wins. This is almost certainly the earliest image of McGinnity as a professional player and we have seen only one other example of this team photo, with that example (much smaller in dimensions) having originated from team member George Darby (seated bottom left). While there is no provenance for this piece, we believe this print also originates from Darby. On both this example and the other example we have seen, there is an identical pencil notation on Darby's right arm (same exact position, with the same exact slight smudge) in which he is identified by name ("G. W. Darby"). Obviously, that pencil notation was on the original photo from which both known prints were made (it is possible that the other example was the original from which this one was made and enlarged, but this one is definitely a second-generation print because the pencil notation is obviously part of the photo and not written upon it). Although this photo may date from 1894, or shortly after, it is most likely a slightly later print, probably dating from the early 1900s. Its exact date of origin notwithstanding, this an exceptional early baseball photo capturing one of the game's all-time greatest pitchers at the very start of his professional career. The photo (18 x 14 inches) displays a number of minor surface flaws, including a light stain on McGinnity's image, a few light abrasions, and minor rippling from light water staining (not visible from the front). It should be noted that these minor condition anomalies are very unobtrusive and the photo displays an overall Excellent appearance. Housed in a vintage wood frame (19.5 x 15.5 inches). Reserve $200. Estimate $400+. SOLD FOR $1,185.00
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