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Lot # 822 (of 1594)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1870 and 1871 Olympic Base Ball Club Scorebooks (2)

Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $9,987.50

These two unique baseball scorebooks, which record twenty-nine games played by the Olympic Base Ball Club of Washington, D.C., during the years 1870 and 1871, are of profound historical significance, for not only do they represent two of the earliest known primary sources regarding the growth and evolution of our national pastime, but they also bridge the era between amateur and professional baseball in this country. The fact that these two books have survived the ages is nothing short of miraculous. Primary baseball documents dating from this early period are comprised mainly of newspapers and/or similar periodicals. Actual team papers, letters and other such items are extremely rare, and most of the few that are known reside in museums or public institutions. The Olympic Base Ball Club of Washington, D.C., was organized in 1866 and quickly became known as one of the area’s top amateur baseball clubs. In 1871 they helped usher in a new era in baseball history by becoming a charter member of The National Association, the first professional baseball league. Joining the Olympics in the nine-team league were the Philadelphia Athletics, the Boston Red Stockings, the Chicago White Stockings, the Kekiongas of Fort Wayne (Indiana), the Union Club or Haymakers of Troy (New York), the Mutuals of New York, the Forest Citys of Cleveland (Ohio), and the Forest Citys of Rockford (Illinois). Recorded here, within these pages, are five National Association games dating from the League’s inaugural 1871 season, as well as many games from the 1870 season. The larger of the two books (14 x 8 inches), which is an example of The New Association Score Book by Henry Chadwick (published by Peck & Snyder, New York), contains all five National Association games. A number of handwritten period notations appear on the title page that further attest to the book’s provenance. “Olympic” is written in the space provided for the name of the team and “April 13, 1866” on the line indicating the year of the team’s organization. “Washington D.C. 1870” is written along the top of the page. An inscription along the base reads “Presented by Cha. E. Coon, Esq. – Dr. Olympic B.B.C.” Seventeen games are recorded in the book, with all of the scoring notations, including the respective lineups for the Olympics and their opponents, having been neatly written in pencil. The first five entries record games from 1870: three games against The Maryland Base Ball Club of Baltimore and two games against the Athletics of Philadelphia (whose lineup for both games includes Albert Reach and Dick McBride). The remaining twelve entries record games from 1871, the most important of which are the following five National Association league games: July 7th against the Kekiongas (with Bobby Mathews); August 8th against the Boston Red Stockings (with George Wright, Harry Wright, Albert Spalding, Ross Barnes, Cal McVey, and Charlie Gould); August 25th against the Forest Citys of Rockford (with Cap Anson); August 26th against the Forest Citys of Rockford (with Cap Anson); and August 27th against the Forest City’s of Cleveland (with Ezra Sutton). The Olympics lineup for nearly every 1871 game includes Asa Brainard, Doug Allison, Everett Mills, Davy Force, Andy Leonard, Fred Waterman, and Henry Burroughs. Although he is not listed on any of the score sheets, the Olympics manager in 1871 was Nicholas Young, who became president of the National League in 1885. Other 1871 entries include recorded games against the Eckfords of Brooklyn and the Nationals of Washington. (The majority of the 1871 games do not include the opponent’s name; therefore identification was made by the names listed in the lineup.) The fact that George Wright is listed in the lineup for the August 8th game against Boston is significant due to the fact that he missed nearly half of the team’s games that summer due to injury. Wright was one the game’s top players, and his limited action that season has often been cited as the reason the Red Stockings finished two games behind the pennant-winning Athletics. The Olympics finished in fifth place, compiling a record of 15-15. The second book (8.5 x 5.5 inches), an example of The National Base Ball Score Book (no publisher listed), records twelve games between the Olympics and various opponents between September 3rd and September 15th, 1870. Like the larger book, all of the scoring notations, including the respective lineups for the Olympics and their opponents, have been neatly written in pencil. Included among the entries are games against the Forest Citys of Cleveland (with Ezra Sutton), the Atlantics of Brooklyn (with Dick Pearce, Bob Ferguson, and Lipman Pike; the Atlantics were the team that ended the Cincinnati Red Stockings unbeaten streak earlier that year), the Mutuals of New York (with Everett Mills, who would join the Olympics the following season), and the Athletics of Philadelphia (with Albert Reach and Dick McBride). The standard lineup for the Olympics includes Force, Young, Berthrong, Leech, Hurley, Hollingshead, and Ewell. (Only Young, Force, and Berthrong returned the following year when the team joined the National Association.) Six pages near the back of the scorebook are devoted to individual statistics of the Olympic players, in a number of categories, for the twelve games recorded in the book. A. G. Mills, one of the game's most important early pioneers, is listed as the official scorer for the Olympics for a number of games. Mills was president of the Olympic Club, served as president of the National League (1883-84), and later served as chairman of the Mills Commission responsible for investigating the true origins of baseball (which concluded that Abner Doubleday invented the game in 1839). The large scorebook retains its original covers (marbled board), but has been rebound in leather along the spine and corners; otherwise in Excellent condition. The smaller scorebook retains its original black cloth covers, but has benefited from minor conservation along the interior spine; otherwise in Excellent condition. Both scorebooks are housed in a specially made slipcase for optimal preservation and protection. This remarkable pair of scorebooks, which were once literally on the sidelines of the field recording the games of the top teams in the country during the dawn of professional baseball, were discovered in approximately 1992 in a Washington, D.C. estate, and have been in a private collection since that time. Total: 2 scorebooks. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $9,987.50

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