March 28, 2011
Rare original cabinet photo picturing the 1916 25th Infantry "Wreckers" baseball team, including future Hall of Famer "Bullet Joe" Rogan. Fourteen uniformed players are pictured posing together with three soldiers in front of the grandstand. In addition to Rogan (middle row, center), the photo also features Negro League stars Dobie Moore (back row, second from the left) and Oscar "Heavy" Johnson (back row, far left). The 25th Infantry was a segregated unit stationed in Hawaii, and between the years 1914 and 1920 the "Wreckers," as they were known, boasted one of the best baseball teams in the Army. The star of the team, of course, was Rogan, who began his baseball career with the Wreckers. Rogan's importance to the club is best exemplified by a local newspaper article, dated June 10, 1916, that dealt with the question of whether Rogan's arm would hold out over the remainder of the season:
Wahiawa, HI - Schofield Barracks, June 10. - Will Rogan Hold Out? is the most frequently asked question among the baseball fans of the 25th Infantry, which means the entire regiment, for what member of the regiment is not a baseball enthusiast. That Rogan is the whole Machine Gun Company team is admitted by all, even by Rogan himself. To be sure there are a few others on the nine who have handled a ball before, including Leavelle, the famous 24th Infantry star, but when it comes to a pinch and the team gets Rogan into a hole, he pulls himself out or pulls the team out by striking out the next nine or ten batters. Complains of His Arm. - It was last Saturday, that Rogan pitched against C Company, then second in standing, and won the game with his mighty arm. He struck out nineteen, but the next day while playing with the regimental team in Honolulu behind the bat, he complained of a serious pain in his arm. This afternoon the Machine gun nine must face E Company, and if Rogan is not in the box, it is all over but the shouting, and the E Company team that has been chasing toward the top of the table by leaps and bounds, will have reached the pinnacle. And so the question is repeated, Will Rogan hold out?
Rogan was not only one of the top pitchers of his era, often compared to Satchel Paige, but an outstanding hitter as well, and usually batted cleanup. Although Rogan did not begin his professional career until he was in his mid 20s, he is often credited with winning more games (119) than any other pitcher in the history of the Negro National League. He also finished his career with a .338 batting average and a .515 slugging average. Rogan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. The photo (8 x 6 inches), which offers exceptional clarity and contrast, remains in Excellent to Mint condition. The mount (12 x 10 inches) displays minor edge and corner wear, and is in Excellent condition overall.