1903 "Wee Willie" Keeler Photo

Sold For: $823

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1428

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Historically significant press photo, culled from The Chicago Sun Times archives, capturing Hall of Fame outfielder "Wee Willie" Keeler as a member of the New York Highlanders during the club's inaugural season. The crystal-clear photo, mounted upon a cardboard backing, pictures a bust-length image of Keeler wearing his road uniform. Included among the handwritten notations on the front of the mount are "Keeler Wm - Baseball - 1903." (The uniform style pictured here was only used by the Highlanders in 1902 and 1903.) Handwritten editorial notations appear on the reverse. 1903 marked Keeler's first season as a member of the newly formed New York Highlanders (who are the Yankees today). The Highlanders, founded in 1903, were New York's first American League franchise. At that time, the American League franchises were openly attempting to steal many of the National League's top players by offering lucrative salaries. Playing in the country's largest market, the Highlanders made the biggest splash to date by enticing Keeler, one of the National League's best players, to leave Brooklyn after the 1902 season. They did so by offering him the largest baseball contract ever tended to a player at the time: $10,000 a year. Keeler certainly earned his money with the club, batting over .300 in each of his first four seasons, including a .313 average in 1903. He retired in 1910 with a .341 lifetime average. The photo (3.5 x 5.25 inches) has a few very minor flaws common to nearly all working press photos, including editorial outlining and a slight abrasion. In Very Good to Excellent condition. Reserve $200. Estimate $400+.


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