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Lot # 792 (of 1594)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1874 Tim Murnane Handwritten Diary of the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Stockings Overseas Tour to England (50 Pages Plus Covers)

Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $4,112.50

In 1874 the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Stockings embarked upon the very first overseas baseball tour in history when they traveled to England to take part in a series of exhibition games. The tour, which began in late July, was intended to introduce the American game of baseball to the English people in the hopes that its popularity might grow as quickly abroad as it had back home. Their journey took them to a number of cities, including Manchester, London, and Sheffield, and at each venue the Americans also took part in a cricket match against the local teams. Among the players who took part in the tour were Harry Wright, George Wright, Jim O’Rourke, and Albert Spalding for Boston, and Cap Anson, A. J. Reach, and James McBride for Philadelphia. Also on that trip, as a member of the Athletics, was twenty-five-year-old Tim Murnane. Although he was a player of average talents, he later rose to fame as one of the most respected sportswriters in the country. His nascent literary talents are on full display here in this amazing handwritten travelogue chronicling that historic tour. Of monumental historical importance, the offered notebook represents Murnane’s personal diary of the trip and contains fifty handwritten pages (twenty-five sheets, written on front and back) recounting the events of the day. Few reference works provide an adequate history of the 1874 tour and primary sources, when they can be found, are normally limited to brief newspaper articles. This first-person account of the tour represents an amazing historical find and provides a wealth of information heretofore unknown to scholars. It should be noted that the diary is incomplete. It begins with page three (all of the pages are numbered) and ends with page fifty-two, but it is clear that at least a few more pages followed. Murnane begins by chronicling the long sea voyage to England and then proceeds to recount nearly all of the stops made on the tour. What makes this a fascinating read is that Murnane provides details not only of the games but also commentary on the people and places of interest encountered by the tourists during their three-week odyssey. While it is impossible to convey within the limited space provided here the full nature of his writings, we offer a few choice segments regarding the baseball games. Our first game was played at ‘Edge Hill’ cricket ground on the 30th of July and won by the Athletics after a ten inning game there was about four hundred spectators present and what a sick looking crowd of ballplayers there was playing before an audience of hundreds where at home we could easily attract thousands. It was rather amusing to listen to the comments one would blurt out – ‘Ah, it’s the old game of rounders,’ then another would say ‘Ah, and I think they will beat our cricketers they field so wonderfully well.' If a man hit a long foul ball they were sure to applaud thinking it was a fine hit. Anson carried off the fielding honors and Clapp the batting for the game, which at times was a brilliant one to look at. The next day we played another game the ‘Reds’ winning this time by a score of 23-18. The Athletics making no less than 9 runs in the last inning. Leonard and Harry Wright carried off the honors of the day…The Manchester Cricket Grounds situated out side the city, they are the best grounds that we played on in England. After the regular preliminaries we played a game of Base Ball. The Athletics won after a good game by a scored of 12-10. We had a much better crowd here and was indeed a respectable audience. They were delighted with our fielding and nor did we get bored to death by the crowd asking questions; and wanting to take the ball in their hand and then pass it around from one to another…We took some of the English men on both sides and they could not hit or even catch a ball, in fact I have not seen one good fielder yet in England. They give their whole attention to hitting…At this place they all allowed that the game was about the same as their old game of rounders, the only thing that made them think so was that the men had to run around, they made us so sick always talking of their old rounders. All of the pages (5.5 x 8 inches) are detached from the original leather-bound album. The album itself (6.75 x 8 inches) is detached at the spine. A newspaper clipping picturing a game in progress is affixed to the album cover, upon which is written in dark pencil, “1874 Trip to England – T. H. M.” Affixed to a few pages still attached to the rear cover are newspaper clippings of Murnane’s later-day articles in which he reminisces about the tour. Also included with the diary are additional Murnane newspaper articles and a Harper’s Weekly woodcut illustration of the first game from the tour. Very Good condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $4,112.50

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