My pal Bob Lemke has come up with a lot of cool stuff in his time, but his latest ranks right up there with the best of it.
Obviously, it’s up on his blog right now, but I liked the image so much that I wanted to mention it here as well.
As Bob notes, it’s an original 4-by-5-inch, black-and-white negative that he bought of eBay recently. Simple enough.
What makes it so special is that it’s a 1959 photo of legendary baseball executive Bill Veeck holding an array of 1959 Topps cards, all neatly fanned out in his hands, with the Hall of Fame owner having pulled out an Early Wynn card for special attention.
As Bob notes in his blog, the occasion was Veeck’s appearance as the guest speaker at a June 4, 19590, dinner of the Headline Club at Chicago’s Sheraton Hotel.
This was smack dab in the middle of the great “Go Go” White Sox historic 1959 season when the club interrupted what might have otherwise been a string of nine consecutive American League pennants won by the New York Yankees.
Wynn, the White Sox ace and the 1959 Cy Young Award winner, was slated to pitch the next day. He did pitch seven innings on June 5 against the Red Sox, surrendering two runs in a no-decision eventually won by the Pale Hose.
There might be a couple of dozen cards in Veeck’s paws, with some of the other identifiable ones being Don Larsen, Chuck Essegian, Orlando Pena, Ron Kline, Carl Furillo and Ellis Burton.
If Veeck had any clue what the journeyman Essegian would do to his ball club a mere four months later in the World Series (two pinch-hit home runs in three plate appearances), he might have crumpled up the card on the spot.
Lemke says that all of the card seem to be between Nos. 205-278, making them Third Series cards, which would be about right for June of 1959.
The photograph so reminded me of a wonderful Corbis/Bettman image that we ran with an article about a 2005 Sotheby’s/SCP auction. That photo – also black-and-white – had a little boy lying on a bed with a dozen or so cards fanned out in his hands while his shoebox with the rest of his treasures is right alongside. In the image he’s looking at the card backs, so the fronts are visible in the photograph.
We had a good deal of fun with that one five years ago, creating our own “photo illustration” by putting into the youngster’s hands a handful of vintage Topps cards from the 1950’s-1960’s, but this time made them in color.
It made for a great Sports Collectors Digest cover in the May 19, 2005, issue, and if we can we’re going to do a similar bit of photo doctoring to Mr. Veeck ... maybe even for an SCD cover circa 2010.