During the winter of 1918-1919 the Spanish Flu ravaged the world killing hundreds of millions of people. While some things have changed over the last hundred years, some things have not. During the California Winter League of professional baseball season of 1918-19, the epidemic was particularly bad in the area leaving promotors wondering what to do. Instead of "social distancing" they went ahead with a game on January 26, 1919 between the Pasadena and Standard Murphy baseball teams met in Pasadena. All players, umpires, scorekeepers, police officer and fans were required to wear masks the entire game! It was reported that police officers were on hand ready to give $50 tickets to anyone who "even for a moment" removed their facial covering. The offered photograph is the only known original example of an often reproduced team photograph of the players before the game wearing their appropriate safety gear. Led by future Chicago Black Sox players Fred McMullen and Chick Gandil (both pictured) who would gamble away their futures later this year, the image also contains many other major leaguers as well. So famous is this image that it was recently featured in a March 2020 article in Sports Illustrated about sports during pandemics. Even the bat boy is wearing the mask as are several fans in the background behind the players. Issued by the Central Press Photo Service and stamped again by NEA on the back with the date, this panoramic crystal clear masterpiece is the only example of this photograph that has ever been offered publicly. A poignant piece of baseball history that proves history really does repeat itself.
Designation: Vintage 1
Overall Grade: 6.5/10