He was, unfortunately, a shell of his former self and his life would take an even more ominous turn before long but in the spring or early summer of 1916, Christy Mathewson was still revered by baseball fans and sought by photographers.
A photo of the Hall of Fame posing outside the New York Giants dugout 103 years ago is making its hobby debut this month. RMY Auctions is offering the 5×7 image from the files of Underwood & Underwood as one of the featured attractions in its Winter Premier Auction. Found inside an original envelope from the New York-based company, it’s the only one of its kind known to exist.
The photo of Matty, with a slight smile, shows him a short time before the Giants would consummate a trade with the Cincinnati Reds that allowed him to become the team’s player-manager. He’s wearing the Giants’ purple plaid uniform donned by the club that season.
In essence, his pitching career was all but over with the decline that had begun a couple of years earlier pushing him out of the on-field limelight. He appeared in only 12 games for the Giants that season and one more with the Reds before turning his full attention to managing for a brief period before World War I took him overseas.
The handwritten note on the back is from the original photographer and the number at the top references the negative. A paper label attached to the back was re-attached in the early 1920s when the company switched offices.
The high-grade photo is one of over 1,400 up for bid through Saturday, January 25 at RMYAuctions.com.