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1889 Worcester Grays Imperial Team Cabinet Photo with Jesse Burkett
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $8,295
Extremely rare, never-before-seen, Imperial team cabinet photo of the 1889 Worcester Grays, including future Hall of Fame outfielder Jesse Burkett. This is an exciting new discovery just recently unearthed at the famous Brimfield antiques show in Massachusetts (approximately 45 minutes from the city of Worcester). The photo (12 x 9.25 inches), which offers extraordinary clarity, pictures thirteen team members posing together in the outfield set against the backdrop of the grandstand. Burkett is seated in the middle row, second from the right. Along with Burkett, eight other players pictured here eventually made it to the major leagues: Bill Annis, Dick Conway, Jim Cudworth, Law Daniels, John Meister, Ted Scheffler, General Stafford, and Tug Wilson. Adding to the appeal of the photo is that various pieces of equipment are displayed on the ground in front of the team, including both a workman's-style glove and a fingerless glove. This cabinet photo was issued as a promotional piece for "Anderson, The Hatter," a local Worcester merchant specializing in "Hats and Gent's Furnishings." Advertising text for Anderson is featured along the top and each side border of the mount. The year and name of the team are printed along the base of the mount, as are identifications for all of the players pictured. Many fans will probably be surprised to see that Burkett, who was in just his second season of professional ball, is listed as a pitcher here. That is not a misprint. Burkett began his career as a pitcher with the Scranton Minors of the Central League in 1888, where he won twenty-seven games. He was even better with Worcester in 1889, finishing the year with a record of 39-6. The following season he was signed by the Giants, but he flopped on the mound, compiling a record of 3-10 before the Giants decided to gave him a shot in the outfield. It turned out to be a wise decision, as Burkett finished the season with a .309 average. Burkett eventually developed into one of the greatest hitters of his era, hitting over .400 on three different occasions and finishing his career with a .338 lifetime average. This is one of, if not the, earliest photo of Burkett as a professional player and the only example we have seen predating his major league career. Interestingly, Burkett, who was raised in West Virginia, liked the city of Worcester so much that he married a local girl, bought a home, and lived there for the remainder of his life. After his major league career ended, he owned, managed, even played sparingly for the Worcester Busters of the New England League for eight seasons (1906-1913). The photo displays light toning and is in Excellent to Mint condition. The mount (17 x 14 inches) is also lightly toned, with a number of moderate-to-heavy border tears and is in Good to Very Good condition. This is an extraordinary nineteenth-century team baseball Imperial photo display with advertising, made all the more significant by the fact that it features Jesse Burkett in just his second season of professional baseball. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $8,295
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