Sunday, August 6, 2017

1897 Brewers Cabinet Photo

This stunning cabinet photo, showing the 1897 Milwaukee Brewers club, is currently up for auction over at Heritage.

1897 Milwaukee Brewers Base Ball Club Cabinet Photo SGC 20 Fair 1.5 with Connie Mack.

The professional career of Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy or "Connie" Mack as we all know him by started in 1886 with the Washington Nationals. Who could have guessed this was a lifetime commitment that did not end until 1950 with Mack reigning as manager of the Phil. Athletics for a full half-century. The Milwaukee Brewers were owned by Ban Johnson (who Mack would work for in the future) of the Western League's signed Mack as manager in in 1897. It was his until the turn-of-the century when Philadelphia came calling. Offered is a scarce composite team cabinet photo of Mack and his squad. The 15 wonderful images are surrounded by detailed ribbon and design elements, the caption proudly reads "Milwaukee Base Ball Club." The studio credit reads "H. Hercher." It was in 1901 that Mack accepted an offer to manage the Philadelphia Athletics of the newly formed American League. Tenure usually reserved for Supreme Court judges and professors, Connie Mack ruled the Athletics for 50 years. The image quality is excellent. Obvious creases account for the grade. Graded SGC 20 Fair 1.5 Extremely rare in any condition, there are large lithographed prints of this composite known but this is the first example we have encountered as a cabinet card.
Fascinating, though I'm not sure about their facts there. I've never seen it reported that Ban Johnson owned any piece of the Brewers; he was the enormously powerful president of the Western League, which would eventually re-organize itself into the American League and be the first to successfully compete with the established National League. The club was owned by a group of investors, most notably Milwaukee attorneys Matthew and Henry Killilea. Matthew was the president of the club, and the one most responsible for its operations.

Milwaukee was a stalwart in the Western League, and became the birthplace of the American League when it hosted the series organizational meetings that saw the minor league join the majors. For his part, Matthew Killilea became known as "the godfather of the American League". The club would be less successful in their new major league, moving to St. Louis after only one year. It would first dominate and then be dominated in that city and move to Baltimore in 1954 where it plays today as the Orioles. They would be replaced in the Cream City by a new Brewer team in a new league, the American Association.

This card would be the centerpiece of any collection. Good luck to the bidders.

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