The faces have faded just a bit in the 136 years since they sat for a photographer, but make no mistake. The image captured in a photo studio that year captured one of the best accumulations of talent in the early history of professional baseball.
The 1882 Chicago White Stockings featured Mike “King” Kelly, who loved parties, alcohol and women almost as much as baseball and Cap Anson, one of baseball’s most feared hitters who also served as manager. They also had star infielder Ned Williamson and ace pitcher Larry Corcoran. Those four players and 11 others sat for the phot inside a State Street photographer’s studio one day during the season. While similar images from that photo session exist, this is the only known copy of this specific cabinet photo known to exist in the hobby and it is now up for auction.
The Photo of The Day from RMY Auctions measures 4 ¼” x 6 ¼” and includes the photographer’s information on the back. Despite a light crease and some handling wear, it remains in relatively good condition.
Anson is pictured in the second row center, with Goldsmith next to him on the right and Kelly on the end.
The White Stockings won their third straight National League pennant that season, then took on the Cincinnati Red Stockings in a two-game exhibition in early October. Cincinnati had its franchise terminated several years earlier and joined the fledgling American Association. The teams each won one game.
Interestingly, the photo shows the White Stockings players wearing different colored jerseys to signify their position, a common practice at the time.
The photo is one of over 1,300 in RMY’s Fall Auction, which runs through November 10.