By Ken Samoil
The December 2018 issue of the SABR Pictorial History Committee newsletter included an article about two images of the Brooklyn National League baseball team from the first decade of the twentieth century. One of those images was from a real photo postcard (RPPC of the 1910 Superbas:
The article stated that “We had last names only for the RPPC. It took a bit of research, but we figured out the first names for all but two of those present in the photo, including a few who did not make the roster. We still need first names for King and Ulrich.”
Searching the archives of the Brooklyn Standard Union and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle provides the identity for these two players. (The Standard Union is archived at https://fultonsearch.org/, along with many other newspapers. The Daily Eagle is available online at https://bklyn.newspapers.com/#.) The Standard Union edition of January 22, 1910, has an article titled “Thirty-One Players the Nucleus for Dahlen’s First Division Hopefuls”, about the players who will train with Brooklyn in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Ulrich is described as a catcher from New Bedford in the New England League. That identifies him as Fred Ulrich (also identified as Randolph Ulrich in the news reports), who had played for New Bedford in 1909. Another catcher that was reportedly set to train with the team was “little Johnny King, the Brooklyn boy”. Later articles in these newspapers, from March, 1910, confirmed that Ulrich and King were with the Superbas when the team was in Hot Springs. King, who had previously played semi-professional ball, did not make the major league team that season. An article in the Daily Eagle on April 11th stated that he was going to play for the York (Pennsylvania) team (in the Tri-State League), but he does not appear on the York team’s records for that season and (according to a later Daily Eagle article) instead played for the Brooklyn Edison Electric Company team. Ulrich was kept on the Brooklyn roster at the start of the season, but he did not accompany the team on road trips nor did he appear in a home game, and he eventually went back to play for New Bedford.
That information would seem to complete the identities of the personnel in the RPPC, but there are more uncertainties to resolve. This photo of the 1910 Brooklyn team was printed in both the Standard Union and the Daily Eagle on March 20, 1910, with the players’ last names (the same names that were indicated in the PHC newsletter article):
Look closely at the newspaper photo. The images of the players identified as Lennox, Sentelle, and Lumley (third, seventh, and tenth players from the left, respectively, in the back row) have been pasted in over the faces in the actual photo. The clarity of the image in the RPPC makes it apparent that this was the original image, and that it had been altered before being published in the newspapers.
By perusing the baseball articles from March, 1910, in these papers, we know that the Brooklyn team arrived in Hot Springs on March 4, 1910, with all of the players identified in the newspaper caption except Harry Lumley and Ed Lennox. Lumley was delayed by floods near his home and joined the team on March 9th, and Lennox was ill and joined the team sometime after Lumley. It is likely that the original photo was taken before the arrival of these two. Paul Sentelle (also spelled Sentell) was with the team at this time; we can only guess why he missed the group photograph. The players listed in the caption are the only ones who are mentioned in the articles as training with the team that month. One other person is indicated as being with the team during that time–trainer Dan Comerford (also spelled Commerford). He appears in a well-known photo of the team that was published in the Daily Eagle on April 10, 1907, in the bottom row at the far left:
When we compare Comerford from the 1907 photo to the man in Sentelle’s position in the back row of the 1910 photo, we have a match:
That leaves two men to be identified in the RPPC; third from left and second from right in the back row. The man who is third from the left appears to be wearing dark pants with a light-colored shirt; this may not be a baseball uniform. It is entirely possible that he was not a ballplayer, but was instead a clubhouse man or groundskeeper at Hot Springs. The man who is second from the right appears to have on a shirt with a 1909 New York Highlanders logo on his left sleeve. This person could be someone who had been on the Highlanders’ roster and was trying to catch on with Brooklyn for 1910. (At that time, ballplayers typically wore their uniforms from a previous season during spring training.) It is also possible that a minor league team had a similar logo, or that the logo isn’t what it seems from the angle that we see it in the RPPC. The identity of these two men remains a mystery.