Sports photographs don’t get any better than this. The 1911 Addie Joss Benefit Game was, without question, the greatest gathering of baseball talent ever captured on camera. On July 24th at League Park—home of the Cleveland Naps—37 men played an exhibition game to honor the legacy of a fallen Hall of Famer pitcher. Known as the “Human Hairpin” due to his lanky physique, Addie Joss tragically succumbed to meningitis earlier that April just two days after turning 30, putting an abrupt end to his 160-97 career record over nine seasons with the Naps. To this day, his 1.89 career ERA is second only to Ed Walsh for the lowest in baseball history.
Among the American League stars that suited up against the Naps that day were nine Hall of Famers: Nap Lajoie, Walter Johnson, Bobby Wallace, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Sam Crawford, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Cy Young (in his 22nd and final season) and Ty Cobb (pictured third from the right in a borrowed Naps road uniform due to his Tigers gear having been left on the train). Most significant, however, is the presence of a 23-year-old "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, having appeared in only 30 games prior to the 1911 season. This congregation of dead-ball era immortals predated the first official All-Star Game by 22 years and, thus, was justifiably considered baseball’s first real All-Star contest.
The expensive technology used to produce these historic panoramas made the print run quite limited. Each player pictured would have likely received one, and then possibly a few important dignitaries. The number that have survived the past century can now be counted on one or two hands. This offered example sets itself apart due to its amazing condition. With no creases and just a couple small wrinkles barely visible, it rates NM in our book. Museum-quality matted and framed to 13.5” by 47.5”, this elegant photograph comes with a PSA/DNA letter confirming its Type I designation.