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Extraordinary 1915 Boston Red Sox World Champions Panoramic Photo with Babe Ruth
Reserve - $10,000. Estimate - (open).
Spectacular, crystal-clear panoramic photograph of the 1915 World Champion Boston Red Sox posing together at the Polo Grounds in New York. This is the finest baseball panoramic photograph from this era we have ever seen, let alone offered at auction. Twenty-six 1915 Boston Red Sox team members are captured standing shoulder-to-shoulder, including Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper, Joe Wood, Rube Foster, Ernie Shore, Bill Carrigan (player/manager), Carl Mays, Dick Hoblitzell, Heinie Wagner, Everett Scott, Duffy Lewis, Pinch Thomas, Dutch Leonard, Jack Barry, and Hal Janvrin. Each player is identified in print below his respective image. The white-letter caption, "Boston Red Sox, American League Champions, 1915," appears along the base. The photographer's credit, "The Pictorial News Co., NY," is located in the lower left corner.
This is simply one of the finest, if not the finest, dead-ball era team panorama we have ever seen when based upon the criteria of composition, significance of the team and/or players pictured, rarity, and condition. The photo, which measures an impressive 38.5 x 9 inches, displays exceptional clarity and contrast, let alone for a photo this large, so much so that one can literally count the laces on each player's shoes! Also, the attractive facade of the Polo Grounds provides for an extremely striking backdrop. The central figure around which this panorama revolves, of course, is a young Babe Ruth, who was in just his first full-season in the major leagues in 1915. Ruth, who is standing tenth from the right, is at once unmistakable, and yet somehow unfamiliar, due to his incredibly svelte physique. Many people forget that Ruth was an exceptional athlete in his youth, before his legendary capacity for both food and alcohol helped to promote the expansion of his waistline to increasingly larger proportions as the years went by. That fact is readily apparent here as he poses in this photograph, looking every bit the robust and trim rookie sensation that he was. Ruth led the league in winning percentage in 1915, compiling a record of 18-6 with a 2.44 ERA. Equally significant was the ability he showed at the plate, finishing the season with 4 home runs, 21 RBI, and a .315 batting average in just 92 at bats. To put his power numbers in perspective, it should be noted that he led the Red Sox in home runs and finished just three behind Braggo Roth's league-leading total of 7 (in 384 at bats). In 1915 the Red Sox captured their second of an eventual four World Championship of the decade, making this a most historically significant photo dating from the middle of the club's 1912-1918 World Championship dynasty.
All original photos of Ruth dating from his 1915 rookie season with the Red Sox are rare and this particular piece is no exception: This is the ONLY example of this striking panoramic photo we have ever seen or heard of and we cannot imagine that a finer one could possibly exist. Aside from some subtle professional restoration to a few small tears in the upper left quadrant (not touching upon any of the player images) and a hint of light border wear, the photo displays an overall spectacular Near Mint appearance. It has been mounted, by means of photo corners, and handsomely framed to total dimensions of 45 x 16 inches. It should be noted that this photograph last appeared at public auction in 2010, when it sold for $57,000. It has been consigned directly by the purchaser at that prior sale.
Interestingly, we believe we know the exact date this photo was taken: Thursday, October 7th, which was the date of the club's last game of the season against the New York Yankees. Jack Barry, who is pictured in the photo, joined the Red Sox on July 2nd, after the club purchased his contract from the A's for $10,000. The only time the Red Sox traveled to New York after that time was for a five-game series to close out the season, beginning on Monday, October 4th. The Red Sox lost a doubleheader to the Yankees on October 4th and with the Tigers still ahead of them in the win column, they needed one more victory to clinch the pennant. The two clubs met again in a doubleheader on Wednesday, October 6th. Dutch Leonard won the first game 2-0 and Ruth the second by a score of 4-2, thereby bringing Boston its first pennant since 1912. On Thursday, October 7, the Red Sox lost a meaningless game to the Yankees, with lefty Ray Collins taking the loss. In this photo, which was clearly taken prior to the game, given the empty stadium, one can plainly see that the only pitcher wearing a pitching toe on his cleat is Ray Collins. One would also assume that such an elaborate and expensive photo would only have been commissioned after the club won the pennant, which occurred on October 6th. The combination of those facts and circumstances seems to logically dictate an October 7th date for this photograph. This extraordinary panoramic photograph is one of the great prizes in all of baseball photography. It is a true museum caliber display piece that would be a significant highlight in even the most advanced world-class collection.