1908 Scranton BBC Team Photo with "Moonlight" Graham!

Sold For: $2,115

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1229

Item Year: 1908

Category: Post-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Rare photo of the 1908 Scranton Base Ball Club, of the New York State League, picturing sixteen team members, including Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, who is seen standing, second from the right. All of the players are identified in vintage white lettering along the base of the mount, as is the year and name of the team. The name "Moonlight" Graham today is nearly as well known as that of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, or Joe DiMaggio, but for different reasons. Graham only appeared in one Major League game and by virtue of that fact he played an integral role in the book Shoeless Joe , a work of fiction written by W. P. Kinsella in 1982, thereby securing a unique place in the baseball literature, and popular culture. While the book was well received by critics, it wasn't until it was adapted to the big screen in 1987, under the title Field of Dreams , that "Moonlight" Graham truly became immortalized. Although much has been written about "Moonlight" Graham since that time, many people are still surprised to learn that he was indeed a real person. Author W. P. Kinsella happened to see his name while flipping through The Baseball Encyclopedia in 1975 and the unusual circumstances of his Major League career (just one game, with no at bats, in 1905) were later used as a major plot device in his book. While some liberties were taken in the movie, the story of "Moonlight" Graham, as told on film, is basically accurate. He did only appear once in a Major League game, as a New York Giant, but that appearance took place in mid season, not in the last game of the year as told in the movie. Also, Graham did not quit ball right after his brief appearance and enroll in medical school. He continued to play minor league ball while working towards his medical degree at the University of Maryland, and was even a member of the school baseball team in 1904 and 1905. He received his medical degree in 1908 and after one more summer of professional baseball he moved to Chisholm, Minnesota, where he practiced medicine for the remainder of his life. The offered photo, which pictures Graham during his last season in organized ball, is extremely rare and one of just a very few "Moonlight" Graham photos known to exist. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest Graham photo extant and one that is further distinguished by its exceptional clarity. It is interesting to note the printing along the base of the mount identifies one of the other players as "Reischman." Below his name is an ink notation that reads "Afterwards known as a go between in Lindbergh Kidnapping;" however, our research has failed to verify his involvement in the case. The photo (8.5 x 6.5 inches) is affixed to a black mount, which has been trimmed along the top, left, and right borders to the dimensions of the photo. As a result, some minor tears and corner chips along the mount also affect the photo. Additionally, there are a few tiny surface abrasions to the photo along the left border. Those minor border flaws aside, the central image area remains in spectacular Near Mint condition. This is one of the finest of the very few "Moonlight" Graham photos in existence, both with regard to size and condition. This is not only an exceptional baseball photo, but one with tremendous crossover appeal as well, with great significance to American literature, folklore, and popular culture. Reserve $200. Estimate $500+. SOLD FOR $2,115

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