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Iconic Collection of Baseball Photos is Expected to Sell for Over $1 Million

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Charles M. Conlon Photographic Archive Heritage Auctions-1

This might be the most exciting auction of baseball photographs ever; there’s no other way to put it. The entire archive of photographer Charles M. Conlon, his life’s work photographing America’s pastime, is being auctioned off this weekend and the collection is expected to fetch over $1,000,000.

The collection—a total of 7,462 negatives shot between 1904 and 1942—is being auctioned off by Heritage Auctions and features everything from action shots to portraits of baseball icons like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Babe Ruth. Some of these photos were even made into now-iconic baseball cards that hardcore collectors will be able to recognize.

Here is Heritage Auctions’ Director of Sports Chris Ivy sharing some more facts about this incredible photographic archive:

What Ivy doesn’t mention is how they got their hands on the collection, which is, admittedly, a bit messy. According to the NY Times, this auction was approved by an Arkansas judge to help sports memorabilia dealer (and owner of the collection) John Rogers pay off some of his $50 million in creditor and investor claims.

Rogers is stuck in Arkansas wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet while HA sells off one of the most valuable photography collections in his possession. The money raised by the auction will “benefit the creditors in order of their priority.”

There’s no way all $50 million in claims—including, we’re not kidding, a guy who claims Rogers promised him a percentage of his company through a note on a bar napkin—are going to get the money they believe they’re owed, but the collection is expected to fetch over $1 million by the time it ends on Saturday.

Here’s a look at a few images from the Conlon collection, which Heritage was kind enough to send over to PetaPixel:

Babe Ruth, 1927 New York Yankees.
Babe Ruth, 1927 New York Yankees.
Lefty Gomex, 1937 New York Yankees. A rare photograph for Conlon in that he rarely snapped shots of pitchers winding up for a pitch.
Lefty Gomex, 1937 New York Yankees. A rare photograph for Conlon in that he rarely snapped shots of pitchers winding up for a pitch.
Joe Tinker and Frank Chance, 1923 Boston Red Sox. As teammates for the Chicago Cubs, the duo helped the team rocket to four World Series appearances between 1906 and 1910. This shot is one of the last meetings between Tinker and Chance. Chance died a year later.
Joe Tinker and Frank Chance, 1923 Boston Red Sox. As teammates for the Chicago Cubs, the duo helped the team rocket to four World Series appearances between 1906 and 1910. This shot is one of the last meetings between Tinker and Chance. Chance died a year later.
Benny Bengough, 1932 St. Louis Browns. In 1933, this photo appeared on card #1 of the first baseball bubble-gum card set ever issued.
Benny Bengough, 1932 St. Louis Browns. In 1933, this photo appeared on card #1 of the first baseball bubble-gum card set ever issued.
Eddie Cicotte, circa 1913, of the Chicago White Sox is credited with inventing the knuckleball. He later admitted Eddie “Kickapoo” Summers helped as well. Both were farmed to Indianapolis in 1906 where they both developed the famous pitching style.
Eddie Cicotte, circa 1913, of the Chicago White Sox is credited with inventing the knuckleball. He later admitted Eddie “Kickapoo” Summers helped as well. Both were farmed to Indianapolis in 1906 where they both developed the famous pitching style.
Perhaps Ruth’s most famous portrait, Ruth stuck his wad of chewing gum on the top of his baseball cap.
Perhaps Ruth’s most famous portrait, Ruth stuck his wad of chewing gum on the top of his baseball cap.
Babe Ruth, 1927 New York Yankees.
Babe Ruth, 1927 New York Yankees.
Babe Ruth’s wife Helen holding their adopted daughter Dorothy, photographed with Nick Altrock, with the Washington Senators. At this time, the Ruth’s marriage was in shambles due to Babe’s philandering and drinking. Altrock spots his iconic crooked cap, a look that made him well-liked by fans and his fellow players. The photo was taken in 1925.
Babe Ruth’s wife Helen holding their adopted daughter Dorothy, photographed with Nick Altrock, with the Washington Senators. At this time, the Ruth’s marriage was in shambles due to Babe’s philandering and drinking. Altrock spots his iconic crooked cap, a look that made him well-liked by fans and his fellow players. The photo was taken in 1925.
Lou Gehrig, 1936 New York Yankees, during his second MVP season.
Lou Gehrig, 1936 New York Yankees, during his second MVP season.
A portrait of Ruth while playing for the Boston Braves at his last professional game. Ruth hit his last three homeruns during his farewell appearance in 1935 when this shot was taken by Conlon. Ruth retired a week later.
A portrait of Ruth while playing for the Boston Braves at his last professional game. Ruth hit his last three homeruns during his farewell appearance in 1935 when this shot was taken by Conlon. Ruth retired a week later.
Christy Mathewson, 1911 New York Giants. Mathewson was Conlon’s first subject. The jersey depicted in the photograph is the same jersey being offered in the same auction as the Conlon archive.
Christy Mathewson, 1911 New York Giants. Mathewson was Conlon’s first subject. The jersey depicted in the photograph is the same jersey being offered in the same auction as the Conlon archive.
Tony Lazzeri, 1927 New York Yankees. He was a second baseman who had to work as a boilermaker in with his father during the off season to make ends meet.
Tony Lazzeri, 1927 New York Yankees. He was a second baseman who had to work as a boilermaker in with his father during the off season to make ends meet.

To find out more about this iconic collection of sports photography, or if you happen to have a cool million dollars hanging around and you’d like to own it, head over to the Heritage Auctions website by clicking here.

“Photography was our visual record of the early days of baseball,” Ivy told the NY Times. “This archive really captures that.” Put another way, it’s unlikely we’ll see the sale of such a prolific piece of baseball’s visual history again.

(via NY Times)


Image credits: All photographs by Charles M. Conlon, provided courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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