Description1911 Addie Joss Benefit Game Panoramic Photograph. Those who followed our October 2005 Signature auction were surely struck by the $90,000 price realized for Frank "Home Run" Baker's personal copy of this remarkable panoramic photograph. A quick check of the auction results database confirmed everyone's suspicions-it was indeed the highest price ever paid for an unsigned sports photo. And this makes perfect sense.
Consider the factors that propel such a piece to the pinnacle of sports photography collection. First, of course, is the exceptional collection of talent captured on film. No fewer than nine Hall of Famers are pictured among the thirty-seven uniformed ballplayers: Cy Young (in his twenty-second and final season), Napoleon Lajoie, Walter Johnson, Bobby Wallace, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Sam Crawford, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, and Ty Cobb, who appears third from the right in borrowed Indians gear, his Tigers uniform still in his luggage which never made it off the train. And, of course, we cannot forget the great "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, essentially a rookie having played in only thirty games prior to this season. Each and every one of these legends, appearing in uniform in a period photograph, commands tremendous attention from collectors. But a congregation of Dead Ball gods such as this could only have happened on this single day, July 24, 1911, as the Cleveland Naps took on the best in the American League in what could justifiably be called the first All-Star Game. It was the tragic death from meningitis of Hall of Fame pitcher Addie Joss that brought the best in the game to League Park, the only time prior to the birth of the modern All-Star Game in 1933 that so many different Major League uniforms shared a single diamond.
Next, we must remember how very rare this photograph was, even in 1911. The technology used to print these very special images was particularly expensive, and the run was very limited as a result. Each of the players pictured would have received a copy, and then a very small assortment of executives and VIP's. This example belonged to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Cleveland Naps from 1911 through 1916, and has remained in that gentleman's family until it was consigned to Heritage with a notarized LOA attesting to the provenance.
Finally, only five years from the centennial of this historic baseball event, only a tiny handful of the original small supply still exists. Vintage photography has so many enemies-water damage, tearing, creasing, Spring cleaning, you name it. The overwhelming majority of these prints have long ago found a final resting place in the landfill, leaving he who can boast of one in his collection in truly elite company. And no collector could possibly set himself further apart than with the ownership of this, undoubtedly one of the finest examples of a Joss panoramic photo on earth. Measures 9.5x42.5", in original wood frame.
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