The Delahanty brothers could be called the first family of baseball’s formative years. Five of them — Ed, Frank, Jim, Joe and Tom — made it to the major leagues, with Ed earning enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.
Ed Delahanty was the most famous of the brothers, the oldest, and the most tragic figure. His 16-year career came to an end on July 2, 1903, when he exited a train and fell off the International Railway Bridge that crossed over Niagara Falls.
Jim Delahanty had the second-longest career of the brothers, playing five years in the National League, six in the American League, and two seasons in the upstart Federal League. He spent the bulk of his career as an infielder, splitting time as a second baseman and a third baseman. He also played in the outfield, first base, shortstop and even pitched a pair of games.
An original cabinet photo of Jim Delahanty is the RMY Auctions Photo of the Day. It is one of several hundred photos being offered in RMY’s May Collector Auction, which ends Saturday. This 1904 photo shows Delahanty, who was playing his first full season in the major leagues. He played 142 games for the Boston Beaneaters, mostly as a third baseman. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder batted .285, collecting 142 hits and driving in 60 runs. He also rapped out 27 doubles and scored 50 runs, but the Beaneaters had a lousy year, winning only 55 games and finishing seventh in the eight-team N.L.
The picture offered by RMY was taken by Carl Horner, a Swedish-born photographer who was based in Boston. The image of Delahanty was one that would be used on many of his baseball cards, including the M116 Sporting Life card in 1910-1911. Horner was famous for his serious, studious shots of baseball players in portrait form. His photos were high-quality ones that offered sharp detail and interesting contrast.
The Delahanty picture is an example of sepia tone photography that shows him in full uniform.
Horner’s most famous portrait was of Honus Wagner, the photo that appeared on that card — the T-206 card that is considered the Holy Grail of baseball cards.
Nicknamed “The Yellow Kid” after a famous contemporary cartoon printed in the New York World and New York Journal, Jim Delahanty bounced from team to team. He did excel during the 1909 World Series for the Detroit Tigers, batting .346 and smacking five doubles during the seven-game series against Wagner and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Some interesting notes: Jim Delahanty saw minor-league action with his brothers Tom and Joe for the Allentown Peanuts in the Atlantic League from 1898 until the league folded in 1900. In December 1923, he became an umpire in the American Association. He even umpired a few games in the majors, making the calls during spring training in 1924.
Delahanty died Oct. 17, 1953, in Cleveland.