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Lot # 1098 (of 1560)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1877 Harvard Baseball Team Photo with James Tyng

Starting Bid - $400, Sold For - $1,880

The significance of this original studio photograph, which depicts the 1877 Harvard nine in a traditional team pose, lies in what James Tyng (middle row, third from the left) is holding in his right hand: the very first catcher’s mask ever made! While Tyng was the first catcher to ever wear the new-fangled contraption, credit for its design goes to team captain Fred Thayer, who is seated next to Tyng (middle row, second from the right). Despite the fact that a number of people later tried to claim credit for its design, Thayer received a patent for his catcher’s mask in 1878 and today nearly every historian supports his claim as its rightful inventor. Although the idea of a catcher’s mask seems simple enough today, it was a revolutionary invention at the time, but one quickly embraced by catchers throughout the land. Catchers at that time normally stood several feet behind the batter with less than two strikes, but with the mask, and the development of other equipment that followed shortly after, they were able to adopt today’s current position of squatting directly behind the batter. Interestingly, the very catcher’s mask pictured in this photo has survived the ages and now permanently resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The photo (9.25 x 7.5 inches), which is affixed to a cardboard mount (trimmed to its current dimensions of 9.75 x 8.25 inches), displays light toning along the base and seven pencil lines in the white border area (intentionally drawn for aesthetic purposes). Both the top border of the mount and photo display glue residue from having once been matted (which can easily be matted out a second time). The central image area displays exceptional clarity and contrast, and is free of any flaws. In Excellent condition overall. Reserve $400. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,880


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