The Sweet Spot of SABR is Team Work

1894 New York Giants Contributed by Bob Blair

1894 New York Giants
Contributed by Bob Blair

People join SABR (The Society for American Baseball Research) for all kinds of reasons, but, once we get beyond our shared loved for the game of baseball, we probably are as different and varied from each other as the population of this wonderful country we also love and as the USA. From statistics to storytelling to poetry – from research to writing to archival item collecting to reading – and from solitary baseball pursuits to active personal involvement in our local SABR chapters – we move, explore – we do what we do for the sake of the game’s authentic preservation and promotion at the local, national, and worldwide levels.

Somewhere in the journey, many of us are happy to learn that the joy of SABR is the journey itself – and the relationship roads we touch and travel often or once n a while with our fellow SABR members.

There’s a whole lot of serendipity that comes in to play along the way. And that serendipity feeds greatly upon our willingness to form collegial relationships and sometimes close friendships with our fellow SABR members. Today’s vignette column is about the importance.

Back in 2007, after 15 years of gradually becoming more involved in my local Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR in Houston, I attended my first National SABR Convention in St. Louis, At one of the luncheons, I just happened to be seated next to Bill Hickman, a bright, friendly, and interesting fellow, originally from the Chicago area, but now  and for many years, he and his wife have been longtime residents of Rockville, Maryland. Bill and I both must have enjoyed the time we spent together because we exchanged contact information with each other at the end of that St. Louis luncheon gathering. I did not actually realize the depth of my good fortune at the time, but I soon enough learned by various things that came up in my mostly small and often arcane research projects that Bill Hickman was some kind of expert and highly skilled person when it came to baseball history, and he was particularly sharp in the area of old photo identification. It turns out that Bill  has done an incredible amount of old photograph recovery work for the SABR archives.

Like it or not (and I think he liked it just fine), that talent and expertise quickly made Bill Hickman my main “go-to” guy on all kinds of questions that arise about photographs or the identification of who’s in them. What has happened in the last 24 hours is simply a great example – but it shows how the serendipity of SABR relationships sometimes work.

Yesterday, Bob Blair of our Houston Babies vintage baseball team e-mailed me for help in identifying the players on the above ancient post card of the 1894 New York Giants. His brother Daryl Blair has been showering Bob of late with memorabilia he finds in the flea markets of small towns in California.

My first reaction was to e-mail Bill Hickman for assistance and, within a very short period of time after receiving an attachment copy of the nameless post card shot, he had shot back the following detailed photo and explanation, as follows:


1894 New York Giants with more details Contributed by Bill Hickman

1894 New York Giants
(with the salient details)
Contributed by Bill Hickman

The 1894 New York Giants were the winners of the first Temple Cup competition in 1894.  Apparently, that resulted in the composition of some celebratory march music, and your photo appeared on the cover of that sheet music.  Said sheet music photo was published in a book called THE ULTIMATE BASEBALL BOOK, edited by Daniel Okrent and Harris Lewine.  Fortunately, that version of the photo was accompanied by a caption with the players’ names.
Standing in the back row (L to R):  Parke Wilson, C; Charles “Duke” Farrell, C; George Van Haltren, OF; Roger Connor, 1B; Jouett Meekin, P; Huyler Westervelt, P; Amos Rusie, P
Sitting in chairs (L to R):  Willie Clark ?  (There were no Clarks who played for the ’94 Giants; the caption says W.H. Clark; Willie Clark was a back-up first baseman for the ’95 Giants; I don’t have a very good exemplar photo of Willie, but as best I can tell, it looks like him); Les German, P; Jack Doyle, 1B; John Montgomery “Monte” Ward, Mgr. & 2B; Mike Tiernan, OF; George Davis, 3B; W. B. “Shorty” Fuller, SS; Eddie Burke, OF
Resting on ground (L to R):  James “General” Stafford, 2B; Yale Murphy, Utility
A copy of the Temple Cup version of the photo is attached.
~ Bill Hickman

Thank you, Daryl Blair, for sending that 1894 Giants post card to your brother, Bob!

Thank you, Bob Blair, for sending us the photo and asking the question! – Maybe it’s time you gave some thought to joining us in SABR!

Thank you, Bill Hickman, for your friendship and your affliction with a trait that was once ascribed to Tommy Henrich of the Yankees as his nickname!

Thank you, too, SABR, for making the days of winter so much fuller – and our shared baseball life so much richer!



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