Revisiting the 1910 Brooklyn Superbas

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:

George Bell –Tim Jordan –Ed Lennox –Red Downey –Elmer Knetzer –Frank Schneiberg –Paul Sentelle –John Hummel–Doc Scanlon–Harry Lumley–Bill Bergen
Rube Dessau –? King –Nap Rucker –George Hunter –Kaiser Wilhelm –Harry McIntyre–? Ulrich
Otto Miller –Tex Erwin –Zach Wheat –Pryor McElveen –Al Burch –Bill Dahlen –Tommy McMillan–George Schirm –Jake Daubert –Hi Myers

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, along with many other newspapers.  The Daily Eagle is available online at  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.

First Rhubarb Blooms

Roy Campanella Heads for Home Plate as New York Giants Argue With the Umpire.

One of the fun things about collecting old photos is looking at them and imagining being there, watching live, experiencing the action the photo shows. Lots of times this is easy, posed swings or pitches, a guy warming up, or players chatting before a game. Other times the photo comes with the caption tag telling you exactly what’s happening. The real fun begins when there is a photo and some notes on the back, but not enough to be sure. 

A few years ago I got a photo of Roy Campanella strolling home against the Giants. The information on the back was interesting but not complete. The main draw was the fact that it was a shot of Campy, I collected him, and the Barney Stein stamp on the back. Asmany know Stein was the de facto official photographer for the glory days of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I often think his photos are undervalued; you sometimes see them get good prices but he has yet to reach the consistent prices you see from some of the other big names in baseball photography. 

It’s a fantastic photo, Campanella with a smile on his face heading home while a group of Giants surrounds the ump and others head to him. I loved it as soon as I got it in the mail but also wondered exactly what was happening. Thus, as Sherlock Holmes said, the game was afoot.

As simple as it seems I decided to try to figure out Who and Where, to get to the What and When.

The back of the photo gives some info, a quick description of the action, a location, a year, and some random notes that I believe describes the equipment used to take the photo. I have always found hand written notes to be misleading so I decided to basically ignore them.

The easiest first step was the Where. The photo clearly shows the “Dodgers” across Campanella’s chest. Based on this, I knew where: Ebbets Field. 

I went to Who. Campanella is easy, he is clearly recognizable. So the question is who else is in this photo? The photo shows three numbered Giants, and its the third that is the key. First is number 2, easy Leo Durocher. Next is 23, not too tough, Bobby Thompson. Then we get to 42 and the plot thickens. Anytime you are looking at a Dodgers game in the 50s there is one name that connects to the number 42, Jackie Robinson. I crossed his name out quickly though, can’t see any logical reason he would be running into a group of Giants arguing with the umpire. 

Next I took to twitter and licked out with some help from @HeavyJ28 and @vossbrink, the two esteemed heads of the SABR Baseball Card Committee.  With their help we learned that no Giant wore 42 in 1951 but soon found that one did in 1952, Max Lanier, a pitcher. 

From there it’s over to the game archives on Baseball Reference to look for a game in Brooklyn, that Campanella played, Thompson played 3rd, and Lanier pitched. I found April 19, 1952, all of them played but there was no Home Run by Campanella. Could be the game but not sure, better check the rest. Oddly nothing else matched so I enlisted some help and if you are going to ask for help figuring out a baseball photo you can’t ask for better help than a friend and fellow SABR member who also happens to be an archivist at the National Archives. It helps even more when you are asking for help in late November when half of DC is out of town. I texted him the info and was surprised that I got an answer the next day. Not only did he find the game but he also found a NY Times article describing exactly what the photo showed. 

In the bottom of the 4th Campanella came up with Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider on base. Facing Lanier he hit a ball down the left field line, started running and didn’t stop till he crossed home plate. Somewhere on its travels the ball ran into the hand of a fan and disappeared into the stands.Somehow this was completely missed by the umpire, you can insert any sort of umpire joke here.  It didn’t take long before third base umpire Augie Guliemo was surrounded by Giants protesting, the mistake was realized and the hit was ruled a ground rule double, sending Campy back to second. He would eventually come around to score on a Carl Furillo home run later in the inning. 

To say I was lucky would be an understatement. Lucky or not this was a lot of fun and quickly made this a favorite photo in my collection. 

Special thanks to Jason Schwartz and Nick Vossbrink for the help on twitter and Adam Berenbak for all their help and encouragement.