Lot # 99: 1892 Binghamton Bingos Team Cabinet Photo with Wee Willie Keeler (Pre-Rookie)

Starting Bid: $1,000.00

Bids: 27 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "REA Summer 2021",
which ran from 7/23/2021 12:00 PM to
8/15/2021 9:00 PM

Exceedingly rare team cabinet photo of the 1892 Binghamton Bingos, members of the Eastern League, including Hall of Fame outfielder Wee Willie Keeler. Twelve team members are pictured posing together in a formal studio setting, with Keeler seated in the middle row, second from the right. Text along the side border reads, respectively, "Champions 1892." The photographer's credit stamp, "McCarthy Binghamton, N. Y.," appears along the left border of the mount. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the earliest image of Keeler as a professional player. It is also the only the second example of this 1892 Binghamton team cabinet we have handled. The first appeared as Lot 130 in REA's Spring 2018 auction, realizing $5,400. Keeler batted a league-high .373 in 93 games for the Bingos in 1892 before his contract was sold to the New York Giants. Keeler, who was lefty, was a third baseman at the time and played that position for the Giants and then for Brooklyn in 1893. Unfortunately, his infield skills did not match his hitting ability, but in 1894, Ned Hanlon of the Baltimore Orioles moved him to the outfield and the rest, as they say, is history. Keeler, whose career spanned the years 1892 through 1910, was one of the game’s greatest hitters. He was also one of the smallest men ever to play in the Major Leagues. Standing only 5 feet 4 and fleet afoot, he was well suited to the “dead ball” era style of play. Keeler used the smallest bat in Major League history (30 inches, 29 ounces) and he often choked up half way. That bat control allowed him to practice his famous hitting theory of “hit em where they aint.” If the infielders were playing deep he would bunt, if they moved in, he would peck the ball over their heads. Keeler led the league in hits on three separate occasions and won consecutive batting titles in 1897 (.424) and 1898 (.385). During his five years with Ned Hanlon’s legendary Baltimore Orioles (1894-98), Keeler never once batted less than .371 nor failed to amass over 200 hits. Not surprisingly the Orioles won three pennants and two World Championships during that time. Despite a number of major rule changes made at the turn of the century that disadvantaged hitters, Keeler continued to post impressive numbers during the “modern era.” He finished his career in 1910 with a .341 lifetime average, a mark that ranks twelfth best all-time. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939. The cabinet (6.5 x 4.25 inches) has survived in exceptional condition, with remarkable photo contrast, virtually no wear to the mount, and an overall Near Mint appearance. This is an outstanding item that would be at home in even the most advanced nineteenth-century, Willie Keeler, or pre-rookie and rookie-card collection. Reserve $1,000.

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