One was aging; the other was considered just a kid in his chosen profession. Most times, that would have meant a politician visiting a ballpark on Opening Day would be the elder statesman and the ballplayers were the youthful ones.
Not in this case.
Mayor John Puroy Mitchel was just 36, called “the boy mayor of New York” when he’d been elected a year earlier. Christy Mathewson was younger than Mitchel, but not by much. Who else but the New York Giants’ superstar pitcher would great a visiting dignitary? And who else but legendary photographer George Grantham Bain would be there to capture the moment?
Outside of the glass negative that resides at the Library of Congress, this 4×5” image may be the only one of its kind to have survived the last 102 seasons. The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is among the featured attractions in the company’s September auction. The back carries the Culver Pictures stamping and is also stamped with the April 15, 1915 date.
A silver gelatin original, the photo remains in top grade despite obvious handling by photo editors of the time.
Mathewson didn’t start that Opening Day contest against Brooklyn. That honor went to Jeff Tesreau, but the Giants whipped their neighboring rivals, 16-3 in front of a crowd of about 20,000 who settled in as Mayor Mitchel tossed the ceremonial first pitch of the season.
Matty’s career was winding down. At age 35, he would finish 8-14 for a woeful Giants team and carry the worst ERA of his career.
Bidding in the auction continues through Saturday at RMYAuctions.com.