The earliest known photograph as "The Yankees"1913 New York Yankees Team Photograph by George Grantham Bain. "What's in a name?" William Shakespeare famously opined in Romeo and Juliet. "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But here, it's the name that makes the offered photograph one of the sweetest to ever grace the Heritage auction block, heralding the official debut of a brand that would come to be synonymous with baseball excellence for the century to come, and counting.
Every Yankee fan worth his salt is well aware that, after a two-season start as the Baltimore Orioles, the team took up residence in upper Manhattan in 1903 as the New York Highlanders. The geographical placement of the club's home stadium on the cliffs above the Polo Grounds, well deserving of its Hilltop Park nomenclature, is the most commonly cited reasoning for the Highlanders name, though others contend that team president Joseph Gordon sought to honor himself with reference to the famed British military unit The Gordon Highlanders that had recently distinguished itself in the Second Boer War.
But with Gordon's tenure having ended in 1906, the abandonment of Hilltop Park for joint residency of the Polo Grounds with the New York Giants in 1913 rendered the Highlanders appellation fully obsolete. The "Yankees" nickname had already been coined by the New York press, and commonly utilized in the sports pages for several years, but the lower altitude of Coogan's Bluff made it official, and the New York Yankees were born.
Call this an ultrasound image if you'd like, as the partial paper caption still affixed to the verso of the 4.5x6" image is dated "April 5, 1913," and reads, in part, "...the Yankees looked when they turned out for...st day after their return from Bermuda..." The date sets this image nearly two weeks before the club's nine to three loss to the Washington Senators to open the 1913 American League season. Note that "Yankees 4/4/13" is scratched into the glass plate negative from which this image was struck the next day. New manager Frank Chance of the famous Chicago Cubs double play triumvirate stands at center among the twenty-eight subjects pictured.
The crystal-clear image is the work of George Grantham Bain, renowned photojournalist known to history as "the father of foreign photographic news" and founder of the eponymous Bain News Service. Culver Pictures of New York acquired the majority of Bain's work upon his passing, and their stamping appears on verso. Top photo expert Henry Yee characterizes the piece as "extremely significant" in his lengthy certificate of authenticity. The Type One silver gelatin image remains in fine condition with no condition concerns worthy of note. LOA from Henry Yee, Type I.
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