Charles Conlon got to know a lot of baseball players during the years he spent photographing them. Christy Mathewson was unquestionably at or near the top of his list of favorites.
Conlon shot many of Mathewson’s most famous images but one stood out to the college-educated pitcher who remains one of the game’s all-time greats. We know it to be true because Conlon himself wrote it on the back.
In cooperation with RMY Auctions, our Photo of the Day is a 6 ½ x 8 ½” image taken over 100 years ago and showing Matty warming up on the field. On the back, Conlin has written “Christy Mathewson, His favorite photo”. It’s leading the way in RMY’s June Premier Auction, with bidding already over $1,000 and nearly a week remaining in the auction.
There are hundreds of photographs of Mathewson, some taken by Conlon early in his career. Collectors have long debated which one best captures the Hall of Fame pitcher but thanks to the newly discovered image, we do know which one Mathewson himself preferred. It was used in numerous publications and even some baseball cards.
Conlon and Mathewson developed a friendship almost as soon as Conlon began documenting players with his unique skill and style creating the most detailed baseball photos ever seen. In 1913, when it’s believed this photo was taken, the 32-year-old Mathewson won 25 games and sported a 2.06 ERA.
While there are later file marks on the back indicating the photo was used after Mathewson’s death, the photo itself does date to the 1910’s and according to RMY, “the Conlon handwriting assures its authenticity and origin”.
It’s obvious the photo got a lot of use through the years. There is some wear on the outside edges and a small piece of tape on the back where a small rip exists but overall, the photo remains in good condition.
It’s among more than 1,200 photos up for bid through Sunday at RMYAuctions.com.