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Joe Agler

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: Buffalo
  • Team: Blues (FL)
  • League: Federal League

Joseph Abram Agler (1887-1971) was a first baseman/outfielder from Coshocton, Ohio who debuted with the Washington Senators at the end of the 1912 season after several years in the minors. He had started out in professional ball with Lansing of the Southern Michigan League in 1907. He then played for Canton, Newark, Atlanta and Jersey City before finally getting a late-season try-out in D.C. His long-awaited opportunity failed to gain Joe a spot on the Senators' 1913 team and he returned to the Atlanta Crackers. He got his big chance at “major league” glory when the Federal League opened for business in 1914.

The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs had incorporated in '13 under the auspices of John T. Powers who dangled the prospect of avoiding the hated reserve clause as an inducement to recruit disgruntled big-leaguers. Dubbed an “outlaw” enterprise by the AL and NL, the experiment was doomed to fail. Nevertheless, players such as Agler benefited by the expanded rosters and short-lived salary surges. He got his opportunity with the Buffalo Buffeds in 1914, playing 135 games and hitting a respectable .272. Dealt to the Baltimore Terrapins in the middle of the 1915 season, Joe improved a bit on the poor average that prompted Buffalo to give up on him. He hit only .178 for the Buffeds but batted .215 for Baltimore. His overall average in his three partial years in the majors was .246, not much below his minor league average of .258 showing modest but steady ability.

  • The Federal League may have been a brief actor on the major league stage but it left some indelible marks on the game. The Terrapins caused such a financial crisis for the across-the-street Orioles that the team had a fire sale which included sending a young kid named Ruth to Boston.
  • Wrigley Field was built for the Federal's Chicago Whales and still stands as a monument to the brash entrepreneurial spirit that built the national pastime
  • Litigation in the wake of the Federal League also sealed the monopoly still enjoyed by MLB as the Supreme Court ultimately ruled it was exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act

Auction History

Cap Anson

Second Base
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Marshalltown
  • Team: Stars (Amateur)
  • League: Independent
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Adrian Constantine Anson (1852-1922) was Mr. Longevity, a big, brawling cyclone of controversy & batsmanship unrivaled in the early days of pro ball. He set hitting standards that only the greatest future players would approach or break. He also, by dint of his ferocious personality, may have been the single greatest force for segregation in baseball until Branch Rickey began to reverse that sad estate.

  • Played a record 27 consecutive years in the NL
  • First batter to 3000 hits, using his powerful arms to create line drives with a short swing
  • Managed the Chicago NL team to five pennants and still holds the Cub franchise records for hits, doubles, runs scored and runs batted in
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1939

Auction History

Doc Adams

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: New York
  • Team: Knickerbockers

Daniel Lucius Adams (1814-1899) was playing baseball before the game was well organized or codified. He and other young doctors in New York simply found the game a great outdoor exercise. He was part of the New York Base Ball Club by 1840, five years before joining the Knickerbockers, considered by many to be the developers of the game we know today. Whatever he called it, Doc would go on to write the book on the national pastime, literally. Adams was a perennial leader among the founding fathers of the day. He advocated or arbitrated the evolving rules that came to shape the game: nine players, nine innings, ninety feet between the bases (forever to be the gold standard of human perfection). Historian John Thorn has decreed Doc as “first among the Fathers of Baseball.” The list of credentials supporting that title are too numerous to detail here. The origins of the American Game have always been curiously shrouded. The luminaries who invented the game were largely anonymous for decades. Once the Abner Doubleday myth was finally punctured, it has remained for modern historians to fill the gaps and Doc Adams has rightly assumed a prominent place in the pantheon.

  • Credited with creating the shortstop position, first as a relay man when the flimsy balls made outfield throws difficult, then as a key spot in the infield defense
  • In 2016, Adams' 1857 “Laws of Baseball” brought the phenomenal sum of $3.26 million at auction amid a trove of documents from that era
  • Doc Adams was SABR’s Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend for 2014
  • Doc Adams’ candidacy for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame was finally put to vote when he appeared on the Pre-Integration Era Committee Ballot for 2016. Needing 12 of the 16 committee members’ votes for election, Doc unfortunately fell two votes short.

Auction History

Ivers Adams

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

Ivers Whitney Adams (1838-1914) was a young and ambitious visionary when he first laid eyes on Harry Wright’s new invention: professional baseball. The Cincinnati Red Stockings came to town to trounce the local Lowell lads in a June exhibition on the Boston Commons June 10, 1869. Adams was intrigued and pursued a notion for transforming Boston into a leading post-war metropolis with baseball as an engine of growth. By January 1871, the plans were laid, the Wright brothers were brought on board and the most enduring franchise in professional sports was established -- then the Boston Baseball Association, now the Atlanta Braves.

Ivers was already well on his way to wealth and fame as a patron of Boston’s industrial and social scene. His love of outdoor sports and camaraderie with his up-and-coming peers fit perfectly with the new game about to sweep America. He procured the incorporation, acquired a playing field, set the ticket prices (at Harry Wright’s urging: double the usual fee), and marketed them through George Wright’s sporting-goods emporium. Thus was baseball born in Beantown.

  • Adams had vowed to friends that, if he couldn’t recruit the Wrights, he’d abandon the effort to bring the game to Boston. He only wanted the very best.

Auction History

Bob Addy

Second Base
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Rockford
  • Team: Forest Citys (NABBP)
  • League: National Association (NABBP)

Robert Edward Addy (1845-1910) was in mid-career when he played for the Hartford Dark Blues in 1874. Having spent his early amateur and pro years with the Rockford Forest Citys, Bob was just the type of player Hartford treasured: an innovator. The hometown club of Mark Twain, the Dark Blues produced a remarkable string of “firsts” (for good and ill): 1) first team to have a captain; 2) who was also the first Jewish player in the majors—Lip Pike; 3) first to throw the curve—Candy Cummings; 4) first to bunt—Tommy Barlow; sadly, Barlow became the first big leaguer to forfeit his career to drug abuse; 5) first (and only) umpire to be expelled for throwing a game—Richard Higham, retired player. To this list was added Addy, the first to slide, a feat he piloted long before his season in CT. Not content with one “first” Bob sought years later to add “inventor of baseball on ice” to his resume, but for some reason, the idea never caught on. Ars Longa is indebted to historian David Arcidiacono for the above tidbits about Hartford's ball club. Addy was nicknamed “The Magnet” for his skill afield that helped the Boston Red Stockings to a pennant in '73. In fact, Addy was paid a superb tribute by no less than Cap Anson who, in a turn of the century book said: “Bob Addy, who was one of the best of the lot, was a good, hard hustling player, a good base runner and a hard hitter. He was as honest as the day is long . . . He was an odd sort of a genius and quit the game because he thought he could do better at something else.” Something involving bats and rinks apparently.

  • Addy batted .277 for his pro career with a sole home run
  • He managed parts of two seasons with the Philadelphia White Stockings and Cincinnati Reds

Auction History