He was said to be a private man, one who understood his place in the game as his fame grew but never sought attention. One of his good friends, however, was the man who may have been at least partly responsible for making him famous. The Baseball Hall of Fame calls him “the first face of baseball.”
Charles Conlon took most of the Christy Mathewson photographs through which we view his pitching career more than a century later. Now, the one Mathewson apparently told Conlon was his all-time favorite is on the auction block.
RMY Auctions is offering the 6 ½” x 8 ½” image from 1913 as one of the featured items in its Summer Premium Auction.
On the back of the photo, Conlon writes, “Christy Mathewson His Favorite Photo.” That wouldn’t have been a guess. The two men were friends and saw plenty of each other over the years. Undoubtedly, the college educated Matty would have taken an interest in the growth and advances in on-field baseball photography that took place during his career and Conlon’s pioneering work with baseball portraits and other techniques was clearly ahead of its time.
It wasn’t the first time Conlon scripted a personal note about Mathewson on the back of one of his famous photos, either.
RMY calls it “all things considered, one of the best Mathewson photos in the world.”
The photo was used for countless publications and the back of the photo shows stamps and markings from multiple uses over the years. The same image was used to create some of Mathewson’s baseball cards.
1913 marked the second of back-to-back pennants for the Giants, who were, as usual, led by Mathewson’s brilliant pitching. He threw over 300 innings and led the league with an ERA of 2.06
The photo is one of more than 1,300 in the auction, which runs through Saturday at RMYAuctions.com.