“I threw so hard I thought my arm would fly right off my body.”
It wasn’t bragging.
Joe Wood was called “Smoky” for a reason. In his prime, his fastball took a backseat to no one. He reached the pinnacle of his career in 1912 and the RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is a rare Charles Conlon cabinet photo of the Hall of Fame pitcher dating to that phenomenal season.
The photo carries Conlon’s stamp on the back and is one of only a few known cabinet-style photographs from his studio. Conlon created thousands of baseball photos during the first four decades of the 20th century, most of which were used in newspapers and other publications. Only on rare occasions, did he create a fancier presentation. The Wood photo may be the best known surviving example of a Conlon cabinet.
Wood joined the Red Sox in 1908 and broke out in 1911 when he won 23 games with a 2.02 ERA and threw a no-hitter. His 1912 season was one for the ages. He went 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA, striking out 258 batters. His win total is the sixth highest since 1900.
After breaking his thumb fielding a bunt, Wood’s pitching career slowed to a halt and he reinvented himself as an outfielder in Cleveland from 1917-1922. He later became head baseball coach at Yale, a job he held for 20 years, and lived to age 95. He was in attendance at the famous college pitching duel between Frank Viola and Ron Darling in 1981.
The 5 ¾” x 6 ¾” Wood photo is among the top items in RMY’s Summer Premier Auction, which runs through Saturday and includes more than 1,000 original sports, news and entertainment-oriented photos from a variety of sources.