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1889 Oakland B.B.C. California League Team Cabinet Card with George Stallings
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,528
Exceedingly rare team cabinet card picturing eleven members of the 1889 Oakland Colonels, champions of the California League. The composite photo features portrait images of each team member dressed in formal attire, with each player identified in print below his respective image. Pictured here are manager "Colonel" Tom Robinson, George Stallings (misspelled "Stalling"), who later achieved fame as manager of the 1914 "Miracle Braves," William Wehrle, Dan Long, Jim McDonald, Charles Dooley, Will Smalley, Lou Hardie, Vince Dailey, Norris O'Neill, and Roscoe Coughlin (misspelled "Coughlan"). Both the team ("Oakland Base Ball Club") and year ("1889") appear in print on the photo. The photographer's credit appears in gilt lettering along the base of the mount: "Abell & Priest/1889/Bancroft's History Building/723 Market St., S. F." Long before Charles Finley arrived in Oakland, baseball fans there were treated to the antics of maverick owner/manager "Colonel" Tom Robinson. According to Kevin Nelson, author of The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball , Robinson was an inveterate showman who could not resist putting himself above the club. He achieved his greatest glory in 1889 when he guided the Oakland Colonels, who, of course, were named after his own military rank, to the championship of the California League. Whether it was his own managerial acumen or simply an overabundance of talent that resulted in the league title is open to debate, but the record shows that eleven members of the club later played in the Major Leagues, including seven pictured here: Stallings, Coughlin, Dailey, Hardie, Long, McDonald, and Smalley. Robinson's glory of 1889, however, was soon followed by years of ignominious reproach by the press, fans, and players alike. First, the local paper revealed that Robinson's military rank of Colonel was not only fictitious, but that he had never served in the federal military at all. On top of that scandal, his team sank to the bottom of the league standings. Robinson, in an effort to reverse the club's fortunes, even went so far as to burn the 1889 championship banner in order to reverse the "jinx" on his club. In 1893, with attendance dwindling, his players staged a mutiny of their own when they threatened to strike after Robinson had missed payroll for the second time. With little support and no money, Robinson was eventually forced to sell the club. This rare cabinet card, which is the first example of its type that we have ever offered, is one of the few surviving mementos commemorating Robinson's one and only championship season. Incredibly, this piece was only just recently discovered by a non collector and is therefore new to the modern collecting world. The photo displays light surface wear, a minor corner crease, and is in Very Good to Excellent condition. The mount (4.25 x 6.5 inches) has some edge and corner wear, as well as a name and address (possibly a former owner) written in pencil on the reverse. In Very Good condition overall. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000++. SOLD FOR $1,528
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