Includes magnificent team cabinet photograph of the victors posing with the trophy!1912 Boston Red Sox World Series Trophy Presented to Manager Jake Stahl.
"No individual, whether player, manager, owner, critic or spectator, who went through the world's series of 1912 ever will forget it. There never was another like it."
--John B. Forster, 1913 Spalding's Official Baseball Guide
Baseball is a lot like life, and this was particularly the case for the season of 1912. People are born, people die. They succeed and they fail. As one great feat of engineering came to fruition on an oddly shaped city block in Boston's Fenway neighborhood, another slipped beneath the icy waves of the North Atlantic. And six months after that momentous April of 1912, in a World Series stretched to its absolute limit (and beyond), one man saw his career and his life defined in one terrible instant, an error that would headline his obituary and haunt him in death.
It's unfair to condense the story of the 1912 World Series to Fred Snodgrass' "$30,000 Muff," but it remains one of the most notorious moments in baseball history. Named for the difference in the winner's and loser's share of the World Series bounty ($29,514.34, to be precise), the New York Giants outfielder's costly bungle of a routine pop fly in the tenth inning of the decisive Game Eight trails only Bill Buckner's 1986 gaffe in baseball infamy, when that karmic debt was repaid.
Tied at three games apiece, with Game Two concluding in a six-run deadlock when darkness rendered play past the eleventh inning impossible, the New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox flipped a coin to determine the location of the decisive Game Eight, with Boston winning the toss. It would prove to be a contentious setting. The famous Boston Royal Rooters, led by Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevy, had seen their seats sold out from under them for Game Seven and boycotted the eighth game in protest. Others had become convinced that the Sox were intentionally throwing the Series due to Smoky Joe Wood's awful showing, and the fact he pitched from a full windup rather than going into the stretch when the Giants had men aboard. Having been denied gate receipts for the Game Two tie, the Red Sox may have been betting on the Giants to recoup the loss, many theorized. The park was only half-filled as Game Eight began.
It quickly became apparent that both teams were intent upon victory, as starting pitchers Christy Mathewson and Hugh Bedient bedeviled opposing hitters, allowing just a single run apiece through seven innings of play. Smoky Joe Wood entered the game for the Sox in the eighth to replace Bedient, who had been lifted for a pinch hitter, matching Matty's goose eggs in the next two frames to supply World Series history with its first extra innings in a decisive final game.
Red Murray would double with one out in the top of the tenth, and was subsequently driven in by a Fred Merkle single to move the Giants within three defensive outs of the title. Herzog and Meyers were then retired in succession, but the damage had been done. With the great Christy Mathewson still pitching brilliantly in the bottom of the tenth, the Red Sox needed a miracle.
And they would get it.
The next day's New York Times recounted the moment: "And now the ball settles. It is full and fair in the pouch of the padded glove of Snodgrass. But he is too eager to toss it to Murray and it dribbles to the ground." Red Sox batter Clyde Engel, granted a stunning stay of execution, found himself standing at second base with no outs, 180 feet from a continuation of the contest. Snodgrass' marvelous catch on the subsequent Harry Hooper drive is largely forgotten, and Engel was able to move to third on the tag.
Mathewson, typically a master of control, then inexplicably walked Steve Yerkes, putting the winning run on base. Next up was Hall of Fame legend Tris Speaker, who gleefully watched his pop-up in foul territory drop to the turf as Mathewson directed the wrong fielder to take the play. Speaker shouted to Matty, "Well, you just called for the wrong man, and it's gonna cost you the ball game!" True to his word, Speaker singled home Engel, with Yerkes advancing to third. After intentionally walking Duffy Lewis to load the bases to assure a force at every bag, Mathewson surrendered a deep fly ball to Larry Gardner, and Yerkes tagged from third for the first walk-off victory in World Series history.
All real and imagined slights instantly forgiven and forgotten, the fans of Boston were lost in exuberance at the dramatic victory. "Words were never invented that could fully describe the outburst of insane enthusiasm that went thundering around Fenway Park yesterday afternoon as Steve Yerkes crossed the rubber with the winning run in the 10th inning," reported the October 17th edition of The Boston Daily Globe, "Men hugged each other, women became hysterical, youths threw their caps in the air, one man in the bleachers fell in a dead faint, strong hearts lost a beat and started off again at double time."
A victory parade was scheduled for the following day, and, before embarking, the team posed for renowned baseball photographer Carl Horner on the first base line of Fenway Park with Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald (grandfather of President John F. Kennedy) and two nearly identical silver trophies, presented to manager Jake Stahl and team owner James McAleer. Contained within this lot is a fine example of Horner's photograph. Image is 7.5x9.5" on a 12x14" mount. It should be noted that this image, a masterpiece of photography from the man whose portraiture serves as the leading visual record of Dead Ball Era baseball (including the image utilized on the fabled T206 Honus Wagner), is the only known representation in public or private hands.
At the left elbow of the young mascot sitting cross-legged in the dirt of the base path is Stahl's World Championship trophy, one of the most significant artifacts from our National Pastime ever to reach the public auction block. McAleer's own model has been lost beneath the sands of time, and many theorize that it was likely melted during the Great Depression for the value of its silver. The gorgeous and flawlessly preserved survivor measures eleven inches in height (just over fourteen inches when displayed upon its original black lacquered wooden stand), and nine inches in width inclusive of the handles. Engraved on the face of the cup are the words, "Presented to J. Garland Stahl by Members of Boston American Baseball Club 1912." Reverse holds the engraved names of the full Red Sox player roster. The skillful creation by noted Frank W. Smith Silversmiths of Gardner, Massachusetts remains in stunning NRMT-MT condition, with not a flaw to note. It should be noted that a modern replica of this trophy is on display at Fenway Park, at the site of the original Red Sox clubhouse, and surely the fan who replaces the copy with this genuine article will be forever in the ballclub's good graces.
The 1912 baseball season is recognized by many historians as the most significant in Boston Red Sox history, marking the birth of the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park and the opening salvo in an era of dominance that would manifest four World Championships in a seven-season span. As one of the few (and certainly one of the very earliest) privately held Major League World Championship trophies, this remarkable offering is among the most exciting happenings in Red Sox Nation since the Curse of the Bambino was cured. Though technically priceless, a price tag will be assigned in this Platinum Night event as Heritage tests the mettle of Boston's truly devout.
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