Posted 6 months ago
It’s baseball playoff time! Whether you’re a passionate follower, casual observer, or traditionalist who munches Cracker Jack while watching games, division and league contests leading up to the World Series are always fun and highly debated. Will your favorite team make it to the hallowed championship? I’ve been talking about Detroit and St. Louis for months, but it’s probably a long-shot (and another story altogether).
“America’s pastime” is a moderately paced game in which players are measured and characterized by oodles of metrics. In contrast to casual fans getting their updates from daily papers, diehard followers scrutinize trades, managers’ calls, the plays themselves and stats. Attending most any game, you will see fans analyzing players’ performances using a plethora of metrics (I personally like the ERA and OPS measures) and filling in their own box scores. For those of you who are deeply into the religion of stats, rules, and box scores, or simply enjoyed the movie “Money Ball”, give some props to Henry Chadwick ... probably someone you've not heard of but one of the most important people in the sport!
Although not the inventor of baseball, Henry Chadwick (b.1824 to d.1908) was a key figure popularizing the game in the role of America's premier 19th century baseball journalist. He developed the modern box score, introduced statistics such as batting average and ERA, wrote numerous instructional manuals on the game, and edited many baseball guides. In recognition for his work, Chadwick was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 1938. To collectors Chadwick is highly revered and original ephemera with his signature sells easily in the upper five figure range ... pretty impressive for a non-player!
Living in Brooklyn and working for several of the city’s dailies, it was only a matter of time before Chadwick met Frank Pearsall, the leading photographer and gallery owner who was popular with celebrities, politicians, and Brooklyn’s social elite. For instance, a Pearsall portrait of Chadwick frequently appeared in Spalding’s famous baseball guides.
Only a handful of Henry Chadwick photographic portraits exist. This particular image of a young Henry Chadwick seated at his desk took me six years to acquire. [It has been cropped to not show all details.] The picture is heavily silhouetted for newspaper use. Silhouetting (including cropping notations) was a common practice by newspapers when readying photos for publication. This image was prepared by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and marked accordingly. As a note, I am aware of only two other silhouetted images of Chadwick.
There are clippings on the reverse of this cabinet card signifying this photograph might have been used for Chadwick’s 1908 obituary. Also affixed to the reverse is the original Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper production sheet.
All-in-all, this silhouetted portrait of the Father of Baseball is historically important and a fine addition to my Pearsall Compact Camera and collection of Pearsall ephemera.