- Series: Mort's Reserve
- City: New York
Walter Irving Snyder and his partner Andrew Peck founded the first true sporting goods store in 1866 at 124-128 Nassau Street in New York City. The pair wanted to promote their business and thought trade cards might help. In 1869, this was a common technique for many retailers, but Peck and Snyder wanted something distinctive. They came up with the idea of using the image of Harry Wright’s nationally renowned new professional baseball squad, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, as their motif. A few versions were printed, the most prized of which today features the players in uniform and their names below the photo. No one could have known that this modest marketing scheme would pave the way for one of the great products and hobbies in American history, as Peck and Snyder unwittingly established a framework for the mass-produced baseball picture card. Following the Red Stockings release, the company issued cards featuring the hometown Mutuals and rival Chicago White Stockings in 1870. Other manufacturers soon followed suit and baseball cards became an advertising mainstay.
Snyder forged a fortuitous relationship with baseball-star-turned-entrepreneur Al Spalding. Irving joined the 1888 “Spalding’s World Tour” to help promote his business interests (and find a buyer for 30,000 pairs of roller skates, per Jerry Houseman of Sports Collectors Daily). The friendship with Spalding later led to Al buying out Peck and Snyder, allowing the founders to devote themselves to manufacturing.
- In a memoir of the ‘88 tour, Snyder wrote of playing the game for “about 200 Arabs” in the shadows of the pyramids. He was pleased to note that, unlike the English, the Egyptians never once referred to baseball as “really just Rounders, you know.”
- In the 1913 edition of Spalding’s “official base ball guide,” his old pal Snyder penned a promo: “I have read the book from cover to cover with great interest.”
- Snyder is credited by Aussie cricketer gear manufacturer BaggyCaps as having invented the cap cricketers proudly sport today, acknowledging it was created for baseball. Thus Irving helped bring full circle the influence of British “rounders” and America’s pastime
- A Peck & Snyder 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings card recently sold for $75,000
Following in his older brother’s footsteps, Ward B. Snyder established a sporting goods store at 84 Fulton St. in New York City in 1875. The annually published Ward B. Snyder’s Illustrated Price List and Catalogue of Base Ball and Sportsmen’s Goods is a highly prized collectible today and is a fantastic color documentary of baseball uniforms and equipment of the 1870s.
- Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
- City: Minneapolis
- Team: Millers
- League: Western Association
John Shaw made his mark in 19th century baseball via his six-photo spread in the Old Judge catalog when he was pictured in his Minneapolis Millers uniform in 1887/88. John had been the regular shortstop for the Millers in ‘87, but as the next campaign began he was shuttled down to New Orleans in what was described by The Sporting News as a cost-saving move by Minneapolis management. Shaw was said to be “a rattling good hitter and a fine base runner.” Yet, the News speculated he was let go because he was a “high priced man whom the club did not want.” The team had signed future major leaguer Joe Walsh to play short and Shaw was expendable. John had begun in 1884 with the Boston Reserves of the Massachusetts State Association and knocked around New England with Portland, Brockton, Newburyport and back to Boston’s Blues in 1886. Shaw’s move to the Twin Cities allowed him to post his career year in ‘87. He hit .292, playing every day at shortstop. The forced move south didn’t sit well with poor Shaw. He joined the Pelicans for the 1888 season and found himself mired in a slump that left him with a pitiful .143 average in a mere four games. The spotty minor league data of the era show only that Shaw finished the ‘88 season with Easton of the Central League with no stats available.
- The Sporting News coverage of Shaw’s move to the Crescent City gives a glimpse into the day-to-day updates available for fans of the era. The reporter noted that “Advance money and a ticket was sent Shaw this morning and he will come south at once.”
- One is left to surmise that John had to pay his own way to Pennsylvania for the ignominious conclusion to his tenure in pro ball
Old Judge Pose: 414-1
- Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
- City: Indianapolis
- Team: Hoosiers (NL)
- League: National League
Leven Lawrence Shreve (1869-1942) had a spotty experience in the major leagues beginning with the Baltimore Orioles in 1887, moving to the Indianapolis Hoosiers that year and staying there until 1889. His total pitching record was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA. Shreve was a slight 150 lb right-hander. He had played for two minor-league clubs in ‘86: Savannah and Chattanooga in the Southern Association where he was a combined 12-9. He was said to have played for some midwestern teams that year but no data survives, so he may not have made the squads. Following the Hoosiers, Lev did get to play briefly in the Twin Cities and ended his stint in pro ball with the Rochester Hop Bitters of the Eastern Association in 1891.
- Shreve mustered only four hits with the Orioles, but got three of them during his debut. Despite being shelled, his bat helped him win 15-9
Old Judge Pose: 418-5