Lot # 160: 1889 Oakland Baseball Club Team Cabinet with George Stallings

Starting Bid: $500.00

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Exceedingly rare team cabinet card picturing 11 members of the 1889 Oakland Colonels, champions of the California League. Each team member, dressed in formal attire, is identified in print below his respective image: 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." According to our consignor, this cabinet card originates from the family of former Oakland A's owner Charles Finley. It's not surprising that Finley once owned this card because he had much in common with Oakland Colonels owner "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. Robinson's glory of 1889, however, was short-lived after a 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. With little support and no money, Robinson was eventually forced to sell the club. The cabinet (4.25 x 6.5 inches) displays a light paper-clip impression in the upper left corner and two areas of surface paper loss on the reverse from having once been mounted in an album; otherwise it remains in Excellent to Mint condition. Reserve $500. Estimate (open).

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