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Old 11-20-2017, 10:52 PM
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Jobu Jobu is online now
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Default Never-before Seen Photos of Opening Day for the 1904 Pirates (@ LOTG ending 11/24/18)

I would like to show you a discovery of negatives from the Pirates 1904 opening day. Each of the five measures 3.0" x 4.25" and (I think) are acetate. I do not know what drives demand for old negatives so I added a watermark and am posting these at middling resolution until I figure out what is what (they are quite a bit clearer).

If anyone has an idea as to their value I would greatly appreciate a private message.

The quick summary: I have a group of 5 negatives that show the pre-game festivities and what I assume to be the first pitch from the April 21, 1904 opening day game at Exposition Field between the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. The photos may have been taken by a Pittsburgh photographer named Johnston.

The five photos are posted below and I am going to walk you through the process that helped land on April 21, 1904. I would REALLY like thank a friend (who prefers not to be named) who did a massive amount of research on these images. Cassidy Lent of the Hall of Fame was also very helpful.

I think these photos are a stunning portrait of turn of the century America. A packed baseball stadium, old advertising on the outfield walls, the old field, bowler hats in the corners of the pictures, and a stunning view of a heavily industrialized city with belching smoke filling the horizon. Add to the mix a looming industrial disaster that can be seen in the background (more below) and I think these really have it all …. except for close ups of the players.

Pic 1 sm H20.jpg

Pic 2 sm H20.jpg

Pic 3 sm H20.jpg

Pic 4. sm H20.jpg

Pic 5 sm H20.jpg

I’d like to walk you through how we arrived at the game date. The negatives originated in Pittsburgh and show Exposition Park - that was the easy step. In the background of photos 2, 3, and 4 you can see Union Bridge, which was torn down in May, 1907, so I knew these were from May 1907 or earlier.

I assumed that this was opening day because processions like the one in the photo usually only happened on opening day back then. The next thing I checked was the scoreboard:

Pic 5 1200 dpi scoreboard.jpg

It is difficult to make out, but the top says “Next attraction plays here” and the very bottom says “Chicago”. It is hard to know whether that is the very next game or the next home series. Looking at the Pirate’s home schedules, 1907 is possible (open vs Chicago – then Cincinnati); 1906 is out (open vs Cincinnati – then St Louis); 1905 is possible (open vs St. Louis - then Chicago); 1904 is possible (open vs Cincinnati – then Chicago); 1903 is possible (open vs St. Louis - then Chicago); 1902 is possible (open vs. Chicago – then St Louis); 1901 is possible (open vs St Louis – then Chicago); 1900 is not possible.

This made me realize that looking further probably wouldn’t help until I found another clue or two and also impressed upon me just how few teams there used to be!

Next was a closer look at the flag, and lo and behold the flag is a championship flag, with the worlds “Champions” and “League” visible:

Pic 3 1200 dpi flag.jpg

This greatly narrows things down as the Pirates won in 1901, 1902, and 1903. This means that the flag is from opening day 1902, 1903, or 1904. My schedule work above shows that all three of these years are possible – if we assume we can’t be sure whether “next up” means the actual next game or the next series.

I then looked at the uniforms, as best I could see them from the photos, and compared them to Dressed to the Nines (http://exhibits.baseballhalloffame.o...database.htm):

Pirates Uniforms.jpg

Chicago Uniforms.jpg

Cincinnati Uniforms.jpg

St Louis Uniforms.jpg

The closer team is in the home whites of the Pirates. Their uniforms were the same in these three years minus the socks which don’t help here as the details can’t be made out. The opponent is in all gray and has a long name arching across the chest. None of the Cubs uniforms have the name across the front, so the Cubs are out as the opponent which means this opener isn’t from 1902 when they first played Chicago. Cincinnati’s road jerseys in 1902 and 1903 were dark, not gray like the photos, but their 1904 uniforms had the name arching across the front and were all gray, including the hats. The St Louis road uniforms were gray but all had red hats, which would have showed up as being dark in these photos, so this is not the Cardinals. (This all assumes the team wore their correct uniform.)

So, the only option left is that this is opening day in 1904 vs the Cincinnati Reds (April 22-23) with the Cubs as the next series (April 30).

I looked for additional information to confirm this date and tried to figure out the history and construction dates of the two large buildings that look to be under construction beyond the right field fence. Believe it or not, those two buildings are complete and are two of three gas storage tanks, the largest of which was 200” tall! Here is a great video about a huge explosion at one of them (MAKE SURE YOU WATCH THIS):

Very cool history, but no confirmation of the date.

My unnamed friend provided a lot of extra research, photos, and a more official write up. That is in the next post.

Last edited by Jobu; 11-24-2018 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:36 AM
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Leon Leon is online now
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Neat pictures and stories, Bryan. Negatives are tricky on valuation. Good luck!!
Leon Luckey
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:51 AM
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RUKen RUKen is offline
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Regarding the description of the Pirates as National League Champions 1902-1903-1904, it was the common practice at that time for a team that finished in first place in one season to be called the champions of the following year. This is clearly seen on the composite photo prepared by Carl Horner of the 1903 Pirates, in which they are named the 1904 champions. (BTW, there is a typo in your first post--it states that the Cardinals were the Opening Day opponents.)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1903 NL Pittsburg Horner.jpg (73.5 KB, 693 views)

Last edited by RUKen; 11-21-2017 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:26 AM
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Bpm0014 Bpm0014 is online now
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Neat story!
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:33 AM
OldOriole OldOriole is offline
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Default Nice Job

Great research, very interesting!
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:41 AM
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Edwolf1963 Edwolf1963 is offline
Ed Woelfle
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This may be a reach on my part, but I would assume that the pictures you posted are not mine?

... Seriously, great post, pics and story Bryan!
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:55 AM
vtgmsc vtgmsc is offline
Mike P.ap
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1,398
Default Incredible....


Your story telling, detective work, historical facts, side stories, memorabilia, are all fascinating and fun to read and absorb. Thanks as always!

Peace, Mike

Last edited by vtgmsc; 11-21-2017 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 11-21-2017, 10:04 AM
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clydepepper clydepepper is offline
Raymond 'Robbie' Culpepper
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Originally Posted by Edwolf1963 View Post
This may be a reach on my part, but I would assume that the pictures you posted are not mine?

... Seriously, great post, pics and story Bryan!

Actually, they are not yours, not not mine.

Greatest Watermark Protection ever?
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on others lives" - Jackie Robinson


Internally- We spend too much time assuring our rights without learning the responsibilities that should accompany them.
Externally - No matter how much we claim to take the higher moral ground, we have neither respected nor attempted to understand other cultures.

Last edited by clydepepper; 11-21-2017 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 11-21-2017, 11:23 AM
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Jobu Jobu is online now
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Thanks for the nice words guys... and for catching my typo, I just fixed it.

I figured I might as well have a little fun with the watermark

Last edited by Jobu; 11-21-2017 at 11:23 AM.
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