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Fraley Rogers

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Brooklyn
  • Team: Star of Brooklyn
  • League: National Association (NABBP)

Fraley W. Rogers (1850-1881) played at the cusp of the professional era, mostly with the Star of Brooklyn in the old Nat’l Assoc of Base Ball Players. Played the ’72 (championship) season for the Boston Red Stockings, compiling a decent .276 average in RF. Sadly, Rogers is the earliest known professional ball player to take his own life, by gunshot at age 30.

  • The Star of Brooklyn was a breeding ground for talent in the 1860s
  • ’72 marked the end of the “Knickerbocker Era” and the start of professional ball
  • Fraley’s brother Mort Rogers was a National Association umpire who innovated the Mort Rogers’ Scorecards that inspired this series of Pioneer Portraits

Auction History

Al Reach

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (NABBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

Alfred James Reach (1840-1928) “served baseball with distinction as player, organizer, club owner and provider of the equipment to attain the highest possible skill in the game” per his own Reach’s Official Base Ball Guide upon his death. “A good man, of the kindest impulses, his name will last as long as we have baseball” expressed the legacy of one of the great men of the early era of America’s game. The London-born, Brooklyn-raised Reach joked that he made the gloves he eschewed in the beginnings of the game in which he starred for the Brooklyn Eckfords and Philadelphia Athletics. He also made the AL’s balls while owning the NL Phillies franchise. A genius for marketing equipment and a lifelong love of the game made him one of the most influential figures of baseball’s first half-century.

  • Began play in the amateur era, then founded the NL’s Philadelphia club in 1883
  • Built the first modern ballpark in ’87, then rebuilt it with steel after a fire in ‘94
  • Al's brother Bob Reach was a MLB shortstop for 3 games, 1872-1873
  • Was the 88th player to debut in MLB

Auction History

Andy Leonard

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Boston
  • Team: Red Stockings (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

Andrew Jackson Leonard (1846-1903) played five years in the Nat’l Assoc of Base Ball Players in the amateur era and was signed by Harry Wright in 1869 to anchor left field for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the original pro baseball team. In 1871 Leonard played for Nicholas Young on the Washington Olympics, the first year of the new professional league. In 1872 Leonard rejoined Wright in Boston as one of the elite players on this elite team. In two leagues, Leonard’s clubs won six pennants in seven years.

  • Hit .299 lifetime over 9 seasons
  • After four errors against Providence on July 3, 1880, Leonard was forced to retire due to failing eyesight

Auction History

Dave Birdsall

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: South Bronx
  • Team: Union of Morrisania
  • League: National Association (NABBP)

David Solomon Birdsall (1838-1896) was an outfielder with the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players over 3 seasons: 1871-73. Previously, he had played for 4 teams in the National Association of Base Ball Players in the amateur era, beginning with the Metropolitans of NY club in 1858.

  • Part of the 1872 championship team with Al Spalding under player-mgr Harry Wright
  • Per Sporting Life, August 22, 1891: Birdsall “engaged in laying the foundation of Boston’s greatness as a base ball centre.”
  • Birdsall's image appears on what may be the 1st true baseball card, “The Old Man” per REA research

Auction History

George Bechtel

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Whites (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

George A. Bechtel (1848-1921) led a life and career that mirrored the best and worst of baseball’s earliest days. He was a stand-out pitcher, fielder and hitter for amateur teams in the 1860s, a leader for four Philly teams in the NABBP 1867-70, and joined the Athletics when pro ball was born in ’71. He played in all five seasons of that foundational pro league before ending his tenure with the Louisville Grays in the NL’s inaugural season. Famed Henry Chadwick noticed anomalies in Bechtel’s game, untimely “errors” that cast suspicion on George’s integrity. Finally, an incriminating telegram offering to throw a game led to a lifetime ban.

  • Pitched every one of the Centennials’ 14-game season in ’75. Along with Bill Craver, became the first players sold to a rival team, returning him briefly to the Athletics

Auction History