March 28, 2011
Rare original cabinet photo capturing twelve uniformed members of a baseball team in a formal studio setting, including future Hall of Famer Cristobal Torriente, who is pictured seated on the ground, far left. This appears to be a very early photo of Torriente dating from approximately 1912, when he would have been 19 years old. All of the players are wearing a large "C" on their exposed undershirts, but we have been unable to conclusively determine what it denotes. Our consignor purchased this piece at public auction in 2016, at which time the auction house described it as depicting members of the 1912 Cienfuegos baseball team. However, despite exhaustive research and consultation with experts in this area, we have been unable to confirm the Cienfuegos team attribution. Torriente was from Cienfuegos, Cuba, but he is known to have played for several teams in the early part of his career, including the Cuban Stars. Despite the ambiguity regarding the team, there is no disputing the fact that is one of, if not the earliest known photo of Cristobal Torriente. Considered one of the greatest Cuban players in baseball history, Torriente played in both the Cuban winter league and Negro Leagues during his professional career. He also toured for a few seasons in the mid 1910s with J.L. Wilkinson’s “All-Nations” team. His Negro League career began with the Cuban Stars in 1913 and later included stints with the Chicago American Giants, the Detroit Stars, the Kansas City Monarchs, and the Atlanta Black Crackers. He ended his career with the Cleveland Cubs in 1932. Torriente, who primarily played the outfield, was one of the most complete players of his era and even took occasional turns on the mound. Although statistics for the Negro Leagues during that time are incomplete, Torriente is credited with a .347 batting average. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. Both the photo (9.5 x 7 inches) and mount (11.25 x 8.25 inches) displays a number of tears, including a vertical example that runs from border to border, many of which appear to have been repaired. The photo also displays a few light stains and abrasions. The mount displays large chips in three of the four corners, light abrasions, and a number of small insect holes. In Fair to Good condition overall. It should be noted; however, that the photo offers outstanding clarity and despite the flaws, presents at a higher level than that suggested by its technically accurate grade. The cabinet has been mounted, by means of tape on the reverse, to a matting that measures 20 x 16 inches.