He was a 16-year veteran when photographer Paul Thompson captured a rare action image of the great man taking a cut. Honus Wagner wasn’t finished playing, even at an age and time when most players had long since retired. He wasn’t quite the same player he’d been a year or two earlier, but he was no slouch, either.
That photo of Wagner, arms extended and weight shifting as he makes contact, is the RMY Auctions Photo of the Day. It’s among the featured lots in the company’s February auction.
Rated PSA/DNA Type 1, the photo was taken by Thompson, one of the best of his day at capturing images of players we’d otherwise only be reading about today. The 5×7 image shows Wagner dressed in his Pittsburgh flannel uniform, wool socks and spikes with a cap on his head.
The back contains pencil script noting the subject of “Hans Wagner” and using the old “Pittsburg” spelling of his home city.
In 1913, Wagner was 39 and was limited to 114 games because of injury. It was the last year he hit .300.
“You can have your Cobbs, your Lajoies, your Chases, your Bakers, but I’ll take Wagner as my pick of the greatest,” Hall of Famer John McGraw once said. “He is not only a marvelous mechanical player, but he has the quickest baseball brain I have ever observed.”
The Pirates were no longer a contender but Wagner hunt on to play four additional seasons after 1913. Today, he remains in the all-time top ten in hits (7th with 3,430); doubles, triples and stolen bases.
Aside from some light creasing at the top, the photo remains in good condition. Bidding will continue through Saturday at RMYAuctions.com.