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Cal Broughton

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: St. Paul
  • Team: Apostles
  • League: Western Association

Cecil Calvert Broughton (1860-1939) had a lifelong love of baseball. He began playing on the amateur diamonds around Evansville, WI and became one of his State’s first major-leaguers with the Cleveland Blues in 1883. After brief stints in the top-tier, Cal played with minor league and local clubs. At the end of his estimable life, having served as Evansville’s first police chief and civil servant, Broughton enjoyed listening to games on his radio as his life ebbed. Everywhere Cal played, news reports spoke of a beloved player, coach and man. Primarily a catcher, Broughton was known for his “head for the game” and his skill at managing pitchers. Brief stints with six teams from 1883-88 comprised his MLB tenure, while the bulk of his playing time was in the minors.

  • A beloved local hero, Cal captured train robbers in a gunfight, and pinched the area’s first car thieves in 1913
  • His salary as the first elected top cop: a sumptuous $35 a month



Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 42-5

Tod Brynan

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Chicago
  • Team: White Stockings
  • League: National League

Charles Ruley Brynan (1863-1925) had two cups of coffee with major league clubs separated by three years. He was primarily a minor-league, right-handed pitcher with quick looks by two National League teams: the Chicago White Stockings in 1888 and the Boston Beaneaters in 1891. Along the way “Tod” played with two Southern Association teams in ‘86, the Nashville Americans and Memphis Grays followed the next year with the Duluth Freezers. In ‘88 Brynan played for the Minneapolis Millers and St Paul Apostles before getting a late-season chance with Chicago where he was 2-1 with a high 6.48 ERA. He fared worse with Boston, failing to get out of the first inning after giving up six.

  • The remainder of his service had been with the Milwaukee Brewers, Des Moines Prohibitionists and Grand Rapids of the Michigan State League in 1889
  • Brynan’s career mark in the minors was 31-39 with a 3.00 ERA

Auction History

California Brown

  • Series: 1888 Champion New York Giants
  • City: New York
  • Team: Giants
  • League: National League

William M. Brown (1866-1897) was a catcher & infielder for 7 seasons with 5 clubs, including stints with NY’s Giants in both their National League and Players’ League incarnations. He began in New York in 1887, left for the Phillies in ’91, was out a year before catching on with the Orioles. His final year in the majors was with two teams: the Louisville Colonels & St. Louis Browns in 1894. This native San Franciscan was exotic enough to be nicknamed for his State in an era dominated by eastern teams and players. Chronic lung problems limited his play. He sought milder climes in the west & Hawaii to no avail, succumbing to the disease at age 32. He is buried in the necropolis “City of Souls” in Colma, CA, near his hometown.

  • Brown’s finest year was 1893 with the Colonels, batting .304 with 140 hits and 85 RBI
  • His 50 walks that year gave him an OBP of .373

Dave Birdsall

  • Series: The Old Man
  • City: New York
  • Team: Union of Morrisania
  • League: National Association (NABBP)

As Ars Longa strives to honor the long tradition of baseball-on-cardboard, and as we have great reverence for the history of this storied art form, it is only appropriate that we depict what may be the first-ever baseball card. As with many “firsts,” this entry is not without controversy and partisans. No less an authority than John Thorn has nominated “the illustrated ticket to the inaugural soiree of the Magnolia Ball Club, an event that took place in 1844 to celebrate the club's founding the year before.” The Birdsall card can't compete with the Magnolias in seniority. Yet, it is a card, not an admission stub.

In 2013, REA offered the famed “1863 Harry Wright 'Grand Match at Hoboken'” card as the first. It is a card. It is a photographic image of a ballplayer, indeed perhaps the most famous of the early game. But it doesn't identify him. And, like the Thorn favorite, it is clearly an admission ticket to a three-game cricket/baseball exhibition. Another contender is the “only known pre-Civil War baseball team card” as the circa 1860 Brooklyn Atlantics' carte-de-visite was billed when Heritage Auctions offered it in 2015. Is a calling card a baseball card? It wasn't sold as advertising, it wasn't even sold. Such vehicles were used by teams to gift their inner circles of family and friends, more mementoes than collectibles, perhaps?

Ars Longa's Pioneer Portraits I series celebrates another candidate for “first” status: Mort Rogers. His scorecards contained photos of players that were cut into what was probably the first “set” of baseball cards. But he was a printer promoting team events and wasn't involved in the earliest entries in the competition at hand.

Enter our “Old Man.”

Dave Birdsall was the “grizzled” and dour catcher for one of the great teams of the early post-war era. In 1867 he and battery-mate Charlie Pabor led the Unions of Morrisania (lower Bronx) to the first championship outside of Brooklyn. Birdsall's gloomy demeanor was undoubtedly spawned by the rigors of catching in the days when backstops wore no protection; and he was, by far, the eldest member of the squad. Pabor was famously dubbed The Old Woman in the Red Cap. So, perhaps, Birdsall, as the oldest guy on the team and battery mate of The Old Woman, naturally became The Old Man. Years later, when Harry Wright selected Birdsall to staff the Boston Red Stockings in 1871, Dave was again many years older than the next-oldest player.

The card is a hand-drawn image of a Union of Morrisania player labeled “The Old Man.” When Robert Edward Auctions (REA) offered the card in 2008, they mis-identified it as depicting Bernie Hannegan, who had gained a measure of infamy as the star hurler for the Unions when Jim Creighton swung, missed and died of injury, becoming the first “martyr” of baseball in 1862. REA issued a lengthy mea culpa thanking the Wentz brothers for straightening out the mix-up and crediting Birdsall as the player on "The Old Man” card. In support of the “first-card” standing, REA offers: “It is the only card from this early era that we have ever seen featuring the image of a specific current player who is identified on the card.” These, they assert, are “defining characteristics for baseball cards, dating from the 1880s all the way up to modern cards.”

1867-1868 Union of Morrisania Champion Base Ball Club. Dave Birdsall is pictured fifth from left; Charlie Pabor is sixth from left.
It is appropriate to the legend of these friends and their nicknames that The Old Man and The Old Woman in the Red Cap are standing side-by-side in the center of this team image.

Auction History

Chief Bender

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: Baltimore
  • Team: Terrapins
  • League: Federal League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Charles Albert Bender (1884-1954) won 212 games en route to a Hall of Fame career. He began life amid the abject poverty of a Minnesota reservation, was mentored by Pop Warner at the Carlisle Indian School and hit the majors with a bang for the Athletics in 1903. “Albert” as Connie Mack called him, beat future Hall members Cy Young and Clark Griffith compiling 17 wins in his rookie season. He led the league 3x in win percentage but was at his best under pressure. In 5 World Series, Bender won 6 games with a 2.44 ERA and completed 9 of his 10 starts.

  • Connie Mack said that of all his players he would most trust Bender to win in the clutch
  • Admired for his brilliance, Ty Cobb dubbed him the most intelligent pitcher he ever faced
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1953

Auction History