Wid Conroy was what we’d call today a “super utility man,” capable of playing any infield or outfield position. He was almost always in the top ten in most offensive categories and once finished second to Ty Cobb in stolen bases.
Conroy was so well thought of that American Tobacco featured him on two different cards that were distributed in cigarette packs from 1909-1911. Now, a one-of-a-kind 1908 silver gelatin photograph of Conroy, perhaps the actual photograph an artist turned into one of his those cards, is on the auction block.
A 1908 image of Conroy fielding a ball during his final year with the New York Highlanders is among the featured items in RMY Auctions’ November catalog.
The silver gelatin photo features Conroy in full uniform and is the only vintage, original example of the photo known to exist, according to RMY, which specializes in vintage photography. The image of Conroy on his T206 card faces in the opposite different direction and the artist took some liberties with the background, turning it into green grass instead of the infield dirt Conroy occupies in the photo. Conroy’s black Giants cap was turned into white for his new team.
While photographs that are the same as those used on baseball cards often carry a premium, there are often multiple known copies, making it virtually impossible to know if that specific photo was used to create the card. In the case of the Conroy photo, the lack of another example and its age would lean strongly in that direction.
Conroy was in his last year with New York in 1908. He would actually spend his “T206 years” in a Washington Senators uniform after being sold for $5,000. That team change would be reflected on both of his cards when they were produced in 1909.