1874 Neshannocks BBC Score Book with Candy Cummings and Charlie Bennett

Sold For: $823

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1159

Item Year: 1874

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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This early baseball relic, the official team score book of the 1874 Neshannock Base Ball Club, is notable both for recording the team's matches at a very high level of play (including against the National Association's Philadelphia team) and for the inclusion therein of two particularly noteworthy names: Hall of Fame pitcher Candy Cummings, inventor of the curveball, and Charlie Bennett, regarding by many as the finest catcher of the nineteenth century. As noted on the title page of this copy of The Champion Base Ball Score Book (published by Wilbur & Hastings of New York), 1874 marked the inaugural season of the Neshannock Base Ball Club, a semipro team based in New Castle, Pennsylvania. A total of fifteen games from the 1874 season are recorded here, the most important of which is a September 30th exhibition game against the Philadelphia Whites of the National Association (baseball's first professional league, founded in 1871). On the mound for Philadelphia that day, as duly noted here, was Hall of Fame pitcher Candy Cummings. (Although there has always been some dispute as to who invented the curveball, most modern historians credit Cummings as the true progenitor of the "crooked" pitch.) The Neshannock nine were obviously no match for Cummings and his curveball, as Philadelphia cruised to a 40-1 victory. In addition to Cummings, the Philadelphia lineup also features Eggler, Holdsworth, Hicks, Craver, Bechtel, York, Mack, and Fulmor. One of the players in the lineup for Neshannock that day was a young twenty-year old catcher named Charlie Bennett, who later went onto stardom in the National League. Bennett's future promise is probably foretold here by the fact that he managed to get one of the few hits off of Cummings. Bennett, like Cummings, was something of a baseball innovator and is credited with inventing the catcher's chest protector a number of years later. He is also widely regarded as one of finest defensive catchers of his era. Although there were no formal awards for defense at the time, Bennett's skill is evidenced by the fact that he led the National League in fielding percentage at this respective position in seven of his fifteen seasons. Bennett played fifteen years in the National League, winning World Championships with both the 1887 Detroit Wolverines and 1892 Boston Beaneaters. Unfortunately, Bennett's career ended prematurely in 1893 when he lost both his legs in a freak train accident during the offseason. In 1896 Detroit honored their fallen star by naming their field after him (Bennett Park) and Bennett annually threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Tigers every season until his death in 1927. Among the other Pennsylvania opponents listed in the score book, some more than once, are the Resolutes of Edenburg, the Rough and Ready Beavers, the Keystones of Erie, and the Unions of Pittsburgh. The hard-bound score book (10 x 8 inches) features a preprinted paper label on the cover bearing the team name and logo, as is befitting for an official team score book. The covers are worn, and there is separation at the spine, but the pages are all firmly bound. All of the games are neatly scored in pencil and the pages remain clean and bright. In Very Good condition overall. This is a extremely fascinating, historic, unique, and important nineteenth-century official score book, one of the earliest we have ever seen, recording the early actions of two of the century's greatest players. Reserve $400. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $823

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