Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Auction Recollections: 1869 Red Stockings

Once again, I was wasting time on the Internet checking out some old auctions of vintage Baseball memorabilia when I came across a item that reminded me of a recent find that went national. Remember that old couple that found a vintage Baseball card worth thousands. The card is below.
Tthey showed up on the Tonight Show and hit up nearly every news network in the country. Eventually, they sold their prize for $72,285.00 through Memory Lane, Inc. Well, an old auction I ran across from Mastronet August 2002 features a related item. Below is a trophy ball presented to team manager Harry Wright of the 1869 Red Stockings. This is a actual game used ball used to defeat the Brooklyn Atlantics. It has been decorated with game details, and, as customary, adorned the Red Stocking clubhouse back in Cincinnati.

As described in the auction listing.
The birth of professional baseball truly began in 1869 when Harry Wright... adopted the practice of openly paying all of his players. The team, which was bankrolled by a group of Ohio investors, was soon to be the talk of the land as they compiled an unblemished record of 61-0, thus ushering in a new professional era in the history of our national pastime. This incredible artifact dates from that historic 1869 inaugural campaign and is without question one of (some might say the) most important and historically significant trophy balls in existence, let alone to come to auction. The gold painted figure-eight stitched baseball was presented to manager Harry Wright by the Cincinnati nine in commemoration of their win against the Brooklyn Atlantics on June 16, 1869 at the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn, New York. Each of the four panels has been beautifully hand painted in black lettering, reading, respectively: "Presented to Harry Wright by the Cincinnati Base Ball Club - Gibson House"/"Red Stocking of Cincinnati vs. Atlantic of Brooklyn 32-10, June 16, 1869"/"at Capitoline Grounds-Brooklyn"/"Eastern Trip of America-1869."

The game against the Brooklyn Atlantics was the second in a series of three games played against New York City opponents during the Red Stockings' inaugural Eastern tour. This three-game set, in which the team would face the New York Mutuals, the Atlantics, and the Brooklyn Eckfords in successive days, was viewed as the true test of the team's worth, as their Gotham opponents were considered to be three of the best ball clubs in the game at the time. The Cincinnati nine was put to the test in their first game against the Mutuals, scoring two runs in the ninth to edge out a 4-2 victory. That game, which the Spirit of the Times described as "The best played game ever witnessed", would prove to be the toughest of the series for Cincinnati, as they would roll over both the Atlantics and Eckfords the following two days by the scores of 32-10 and 24-5, respectively. The Atlantics, however, eventually had their revenge the following season when, on June 14, 1870, they would hand the Red Stockings their very first defeat ever, edging them by a score of 8-7 in 11 innings. Following their successful Eastern tour, which also took them to Philadelphia and Washington, the team returned to Cincinnati in early July where they were royally feted by their local fans at a magnificent banquet held in the team's honor. The celebration took place at Gibson House, a prominent local Hotel/Banquet Hall. During the festivities the team was praised by seemingly every local politician, businessman and judge, culminating in team President Aaron Champion proclaiming that he would rather be President of the Champion Cincinnati Base Ball Club than President of the United States. It seems almost certain, based upon the inscription, that this magnificent trophy ball was presented to Harry Wright at that famous banquet.

(click to enlarge pic)
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