September 14, 2011
On Thursday, nearly 145 years after someone penciled in the starting lineups on it, this yellowing baseball relic will be auctioned at Swann Galleries in New York, where experts expect it to fetch $5,000 to $7,000.
“As far as anyone knows,” Swann’s Rick Stattler said, “this is the first printed baseball scorecard ever.”
It was handed out to fans who, in a virtually unprecedented move, were charged 25 cents to watch the Oct. 1, 1866, game between Philadelphia’s Athletics and Brooklyn’s Atlantics at a 15th and Columbia ball field.
According to various accounts, the promoters had sold 8,000 tickets in advance and, in another exceptional action, some of the nominally amateur players privately had agreed to split the proceeds.
Unfortunately, another 25,000 or so fans flocked to the North Philadelphia site that Monday afternoon, a gathering so large and rowdy that the game had to be canceled after just a half-inning.
“There was just no room to play, and the police couldn’t keep the crowds off the field,” said Stattler, citing various newspaper accounts. “The first baseman said he didn’t have any room to make plays at first base. There are reports that at least one spectator was pulled off with blood streaming from his head. Things got pretty rowdy. Finally, in the bottom of the first inning, when a New York guy hit a ball into the crowd, they decided they just couldn’t go any further.”
Someone had entered the lineups on the surviving scorecard, presently owned by collector Eric Caren, and filled in the activity from the top of the first. As was commonplace then, the home-team Athletics hit first, scoring two runs that further fanned the huge gathering’s fire.
A few notes about the game. First of all, one of the Brooklyn Players later played for the Phillies, and had the greatest nickname in Philly history. That would be Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson.
RELATED: Wes Fisler scores baseball’s first run.