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Lot # 1139: Rare 1908 "Merkle's Boner" October 8th Giants vs. Cubs "Makeup Game" to Decide the Pennant Photograph - Dispute at the Plate! (PSA Type I)

Starting Bid: $500.00

Bids: 13 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Spring Classic 2022",
which ran from 5/20/2022 7:00 PM to
6/11/2022 10:00 PM

Rare original Type I photograph capturing a heated argument between the New York Giants and Chicago Cubs during their historic final game on October 8, 1908, to decide the National League pennant. This is, to the best of our knowledge, one of only three known images from this game, and the only example of this photo to appear at auction. The game was a make-up of the famous “Merkle’s Boner” game on September 23rd. In that game, the Giants had seemingly defeated the Cubs in the ninth inning on a two-out base hit by Al Bridwell. However, Fred Merkle, who was on first base at the time, failed to touch second base before exiting the field (a common practice at the time). Second baseman Johnny Evers noticed this, called for the ball (there is some dispute whether he retrieved the actual ball Bridwell hit), and stepped on second for the force out, thereby negating the winning run. After a lengthy argument by the Giants, the umpires upheld the call. They also decided that it was too late to start another inning and declared the game a tie. The importance of the game became apparent at the end of the season when both clubs finished tied for first. As a result, National League president Harry Pulliam ordered that the game be replayed on October 8th at the Polo Grounds. The Giants, of course, lost the game, thereby forever immortalizing Fred Merkle’s name in the annals of baseball history.

The image pictures numerous members of the Giants and Cubs huddled together around home plate as the umpires watch the fracas. We don’t know the nature of the dispute, but Cubs catcher Johnny Kling looks particularly upset. There are no descriptive markings on the photo to identify the game or date (we know it is 1908, because the uniform style worn by the Cubs here was used only during that season). However, we can accurately determine it is from the October 8th makeup game because we found a nearly identical image, taken by George Grantham Bain, that is housed in the Library of Congress. (The Bain photograph pictures nearly the exact same scene as the offered photo, only it was taken either a few seconds earlier or later, because the position of the players is slightly different.) Bain’s photo is clearly marked by his customary etching in the negative that reads "Dispute - Giant - Cub Final Game '08."

It is incredible that given the importance of the October 8th makeup game that so few photos from the contest exist. Aside from the offered photo and the Bain example housed in the Library of Congress, the only other image we know of is that featured on a real-photo panoramic postcard that pictures a game-in-progress scene. This is both a rare and historically important Type I photo that would be welcome addition to any advanced baseball photograph, New York Giants, or Chicago Cubs collection. The photo (6.75x4.75 inches) displays a “Spooner & Wells, Inc.” credit stamp on the reverse, along with a handwritten number in pencil. There is a tiny chip in the lower-left corner, a few minor surface wrinkles, and adhesive residue on the reverse. In Excellent condition overall. PSA encapsulated as Type I Authentic.

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