He looked much different than he did 36 years earlier when his soon-to-be famous baseball card had briefly appeared inside packages of cigarettes. A frozen moment in time is our Photo of the Day from RMY Auctions. The World War II era image captures an aging Wagner catching up with veteran Mel Ott as the latter moved in on one of Wagner’s records. Wagner was rarely photographed wearing glasses.
The Flying Dutchman was 71 in the spring of 1945 but still coaching for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ott was the 36-year-old player/manager of the New York Giants. Photographers got the pair to pose on May 26, 1945 when the Giants visited Forbes Field and Ott was closing in on Wagner’s record for total bases in a career. Ott would not only pass Wagner, he’d finish his career with more than 5,000 bases, a huge total for the time but now good enough for 20th place on the all-time list. Wagner’s mark of 4,870 is 25th.
The 7×9 photo is one of several hundred closing at auction Saturday night in RMY’s January catalog. Originally distributed by the Associated Press, the photo still has the original caption attached to the back.