Spring, 2018 Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 3/25/2018

Incredible imperial photograph featuring the members of the 1871 Osceola Base Ball Club of Stratford, Connecticut.   The Osceola team was a semi-pro ballclub that was organized in the late 1860s, featuring O'Rourke beginning in 1868, when he played alongside Tim Murnane.  Murnane departed in 1870 for a barnstorming team in Georgia, leaving the role of catcher open for O'Rourke.  In 1871, O'Rourke would team up with pitcher Frank Buttery to lead the club to the championship of the Connecticut Baseball Association.  

This wonderful team photo measures 15 x 17", professionally matted and framed to a finished size of 22 x 19 1/2".  Its appearance is far too beautiful - and large - to effectively communicate in the pages of a printed catalog, but the sepia-toned photo was clearly created for team members or owners, its size far larger than the typical photos from this era, the players elegantly identified in calligraphic writing on the mount.  O'Rourke and Buttery are both pictured in the photo, though it is "Orator" Jim O'Rourke that is clearly the most important figure depicted in the photo.  Just 21 years old in the photo, O'Rourke would soon produce the first base hit in National League history, on April 22, 1876 as a member of the Boston Red Stockings.

O'Rourke would continue to play in the minor leagues until he was more than 50 years old, hiring the first African American minor league player in history in 1895.  He made his final appearance at 54 years old, becoming the oldest player to appear in the National League as a member of John McGraw's 1904 New York Giants, and also became the oldest player to hit safely.  In 1912 at age 60, he caught a complete minor league game.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

The photo itself is extraordinary, clean and crisp with some minor foxing near the center and along the edges of the photo itself.  Some very minor staining exists at the bottom-right corner of the mount, mentioned here only for the sake of accuracy.  The photo itself is the only example of which we are aware, offered at public auction more than a decade ago and changing hands privately at least once since, but never again offered publicly.  A wonderful - and extremely large - photo, a rare glimpse into the youth of one of the game's early greats.  The photo measures an astonishing 15 x 17 inches, framed to 22 x 19 1/2", a beautiful early display featuring a "pre-rookie" photo of "Orator" Jim O'Rourke.

Enormous, Spectacular 1871 Stratford Base Ball Club Team Photograph w/James O'Rourke (HOF)
Enormous, Spectacular 1871 Stratford Base Ball Club Team Photograph w/James O'Rourke (HOF)
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Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $3,690
Number Bids: 13
Auction closed on Sunday, March 25, 2018.
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