October Legends
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/2/2013

Offered is a tremendous artifact of professional baseball and American history, an object so rare that is has been decades since an similar one has been available at auction! America’s game of baseball, the game we know and love today, was brought to the masses by Harry Wright, the man who was a pioneer in the development of the game from the early years. One of the many facets of today’s game which Wright developed was the act of keeping score. Wright even developed the first score book, aptly named “Harry Wright’s Pocket Base Ball Score Book,” a 48-page tome with room to score 22 games. Several other pages instructed “How to Keep Score.” Wright always attempted to get an edge on the competition and developed a method of tracking every hit, run, error and out made.


During the seasons of 1879 through 1892, Wright, then a manager, kept a careful and meticulous recording of each game his team played, tallying statistics while keeping all scorebook records in his own hand. This leather bound personal volume for the 1886 Philadelphia Quakers season is a composite of eight separate “Harry Wright” pocket score books, all professionally bound together into one cohesive unit.


And cohesiveness is another of Wright’s baseball trademarks. He scoured the country in 1869 and formed the first all professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Wright created the first use of hand signals, and the first “farm system,” where he allowed amateur players to train and play so they would be ready in case of injury to one of his team’s regulars. Wright also instituted pre-game batting practice, and other team oriented traits such as players backing up plays, and on field positioning based upon hitters tendencies. Realizing his team could get a jump on the other teams if they began playing games in better weather prior to their season, Wright also began playing “spring training” games in the south before the regular season started. Soon after his teams began traveling south, most other professional teams in the National League followed suit with their own spring training rituals.


Harry Wright was the most important figure in the early days of baseball. While Alexander Cartwright and Henry Chadwick were instrumental in their own ways, it was Harry Wright who was a player (in his youth he was the BEST player), a manager, an innovator, an umpire and most of all, “the most ethical gentleman in the game.” He would be requested to umpire key games between rival teams due to his respect he generated amongst the participants.


As mentioned earlier, Wright began keeping detailed score books to chronicle each game his teams played, all witnessed from his team’s bench. This particular complete volume includes all games played from March 20, 1886 to October 16, 1886. It includes pre-season games from the “Southern Tour” in Charleston, SC; a nine-game exhibition series against the cross town rival Philadelphia Athletics of the National Association; the complete regular season and another post season series versus the Athletics. In addition, during off days, most likely for extra cash, the team played various minor league and college squads. All together there are more than 150 games detailed by Wright in his own hand. Interestingly, the final page (dated October 16) has in Wright’s own hand “Players paid in full and disbanded for the season.” Within the “scorer” box on 70 separate pages in this bible of games, Wright has neatly initialed “H.W.” One game has only the initial “H,” while the June 10, 1886 game has his full name “Harry Wright” neatly written, virtually a perfect pencil full signature.


This voluminous record of games of the Quakers and their opponents reveal the exploits of over a dozen HOFers, including Cap Anson, John Clarkson and King Kelly of the Chicago team; Ned Hanlon, Sam Thompson and Dan Brouthers of Detroit; Connie Mack of Washington; Tim Keefe, Monte Ward, Buck Ewing, Jim O’Rourke, Roger Connor and Mickey Welch of the New York Giants; Old Hoss Radbourn from Boston; Wilbert Robinson of the Atlantics (his rookie season!), and a young Tommy McCarthy with the home team. In addition to those HOFers, other notables such as Billy Sunday, Jack Glasscock, Harry Stovey as opponents and Charlie Ferguson of the hometown Quakers. Ferguson is of particular note since he had four 20-win plus seasons as a major league pitcher (in only four seasons), won 99 games and was most certainly headed for the Hall of Fame, but he contracted typhoid fever and died in early 1888. Highlighted games within this book include HOFer Radbourn getting pummeled in a couple contests, and several games featuring a Giants lineup with four HOFers in the top four spots with another HOFer on the hill. Also, the final day featured a double header sweep of second place Detroit, thus eliminating the Wolverines from an opportunity at the league title. There are also about a dozen newspaper clippings, likely cut by Wright, and inserted into various pages. These clippings indicate printed standings, statistics, and several articles featuring selected games. One interesting clip mentions Connie Mack, a catcher with Washington, several times.


This book is a complete historical reference to the 1886 season as seen through the eyes of the greatest 19th Century advocate for the National Game. It is a cornucopia of information; all written neatly in Wright’s own hand, and with the batting order of every game neatly penned in perfect script. The book is also filled with personal notes, including team standings, batting and fielding averages, footnotes describing key plays, substitutions for injuries, once again all penciled in by Wright. Basically, this book mirrors Wright’s own actions and thought processes as a manager. The book measures 4” x 6.5” with a gilt edge and the eight individual scorebooks are bound together in a red leather cover with “1886” in gold etching on the spine. At the end of the scored games, there are eight pages of National League statistics, eight pages of a brief record of all prior seasons plus the upcoming 1887 schedule! How’s that for being prepared!


The condition of the contents is excellent (if not better). The front cover has separated from its bond to the spine, but is held together by tape. The back cover is mostly intact, and the corners and edges display appropriate wear and light rounding commensurate with the handling the book most assuredly conducted by Wright and others. Over the last 30 years, we have found only one full volume of a Harry Wright scorebook coming to auction, and that book, with a slightly better conditioned cover, DID NOT contain a full signature of Harry Wright. That volume of the 1885 season sold in the high five figures. Another bound volume of the 1883 season (as Providence manager) was divided into individual 48-page score books and sold as separate pieces. It is extremely rare that a 19th century manuscript of this importance comes available, and the magnitude of this book cannot be overstated. This is one of the most significant works available to the hobby in several decades, and deserves its rightful place in only the best literary collections in the country.


NOTE: While PSA/DNA has authenticated the full Harry Wright signature as authentic, they originally stated the full set of 70 "H.W." pencil initials made by Wright were in Wright's own hand. However, after further research, PSA/DNA has determined only the first 25 of these "H.W." initial were made by Harry Wright, with the balance made by an unknown hand. Again, the FULL Harry Wright signature is completely authentic but only the first 25 "H.W." initial have been determined by PSA/DNA to be from Wright's own hand.  

This lot has a Reserve Price that has not been met.
Current Bidding (Reserve Not Met)
Minimum Bid: $3,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $0.00
Number Bids: 9
Auction closed on Saturday, November 2, 2013.
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