March 28, 2011
Rare original photograph capturing 16 members of the 1920 Detroit Stars, charter members of the Negro National League. The team name and year, "Detroit Stars - 1920," are written in black ink along the base of the photo. Each player is pictured in uniform, including future Hall of Famers Pete Hill (middle row, second from the left) and Andy Cooper (middle row, far right). Also featured are standout catcher Bruce Petway (standing, back row, third from the left), pitcher Bill Holland (standing, back row, far left), pitcher Bill Gatewood (standing, back row, third from the right), and infielder Joe Hewitt (middle row, far left). Team owner Tenny Blount, who was also an executive member of the Negro National League and a good friend of League founder Rube Foster, is pictured seated in the center wearing a team jacket. Rube Foster had stocked the Stars with a number of quality veteran players from his New York American Giants, including Hill and Petway, but despite the influx of talent, the club finished in second place behind the Chicago American Giants. Any and all Negro League photos from this era are exceedingly rare and this piece is no exception. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the only surviving photo picturing the Stars during their first year in the newly formed Negro National League. The photo (9.75 x 7.75 inches), which has been affixed to a cardboard backing, displays a number of flaws, including a large chip in the lower right corner, numerous heavy creases, and edge tears. The names of Holland and Petway are written in blue ink above their respective images, while Hill's name is written on his image in pencil. An illegible pencil notation also appears on the player standing in the back row, second from the left. While technically in Fair condition, the photo offers outstanding clarity and nearly all of the paper loss affects the periphery areas and not the player images. This is a historically significant team photo dating from the birth of the Negro National League.