Mel Ott was just 18 but already had 35 big league games under his belt when he stepped in front of a camera for this photo on April 12, 1927. Small but powerful, Ott was a tremendous prospect. Little did anyone know at the time, however, that he would become one of the most feared hitters in baseball history.
The photo is one of the earliest photos of Ott in a Giants’ uniform. Taken late in spring training, the photo captures the 5’9” slugger before he’d hit even one of his 511 career home runs.
Minor league teams near his Louisiana home had turned him down because of his stature and in 1925, Ott joined the semi-pro team operated by a lumber company located about 90 miles from New Orleans. The wealthy owner of the lumber company coaxed him into going to New York for a tryout and the Giants were immediately impressed.
Ott had played in only 35 games in 1926 and wouldn’t play a full season in 1927 either as manager John McGraw and club officials opted to bring him along slowly. With his early start, it’s not surprising that Ott became the youngest player to hit 100 home runs as well as the first National League player to reach 500.
The photo has three small pinholes and a small corner chip but is otherwise among the best existing original images of Ott, according to RMY, which specializes in vintage photography.
Bidding is underway at RMYAuctions.com with the auction set to conclude July 15.