1920 New York Giants vs. United States Military Team Panorama with Christy Mathewson

Sold For: $720

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1631

Item Year: 1920

Category: Post-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Rare panoramic photo capturing the New York Giants posing together with either a United States military team or minor league club at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, in 1920. Thirty-two uniformed members of the Giants are pictured, but as is common for panoramic photos, a number of the players are pictured twice, on either side of the photo (they took advantage of the long exposure time by running behind the camera and lining up on the opposite end as well). Although none of the players are identified in print, manager John McGraw, Christy Mathewson (coach), and George "High Pockets" Kelly (pictured on both ends) are all easily recognizable. Other notable players on the Giants roster at this time include Ross Youngs, Frankie Frisch (1920 was his rookie season), and Dave Bancroft. Twenty-two additional uniformed players are also pictured here, most of whom are kneeling in front of the Giants players. The white-letter caption along the base reads "New York Giants vs. Kelly Field. Mar. 17, 1920." The photographer's credit, "H. L. Summerville/San Antonio. Tex.," appears in the lower right corner. Kelly Field, located in San Antonio, Texas, was a military base and home to the Army Air Service during World War I. After the war, it was one of the few air bases to remain open and was used for advanced pilot training. As one can plainly see in this image, a few soldiers are posing with the players, with hundreds more visible in the background. The Giants trained in San Antonio from 1920 to 1923. Because there are two different uniforms worn by the Giants opponent, it is not clear if it is a military team, a minor league club, or perhaps a combination of the two. It's very possible that the Giants scheduled a game against a local minor league club to entertain the soldiers at the base. Regardless of the anonymity of their opponent, this remains an outstanding panoramic image of the eventual World Champion New York Giants prior to the start of the regular season. The panorama (35 x 8 inches), which is trimmed along each end, displays a number of heavy vertical creases, small edge tears, light staining in the upper left corner, and a few tiny areas of discoloration in the lower left corner. Despite the flaws, the photo displays outstanding clarity and presents at a higher level than that suggested by its technically accurate grade of Good. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000++.

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