LOS ANGELES, CA.-
A scarce 1872 Boston Red Stockings membership certificate will be auctioned by Robert Edward Auctions
. Bidding runs from March 6-24. Interested bidders may participate in the auction online.
The large-format certificate is signed by Harry Wright, proclaiming Charles H. Gould an active member of the 1872 Boston Red Stockings. It is the first and only 1872 Boston Red Stockings membership certificate known. The colorful design features an illustration of a game-in-progress scene encircled by a red baseball belt and an eagle holding a banner and four baseball flags. The banner is lettered "Most Respectfully;" the related lettering on the belt reads "Dedicated To The Base Ball Fraternity Throughout The United States." On either side of the central illustration are two generic ballplayers in various action poses. Also pictured within the central vignette is a trophy case filled with a pyramid of trophy balls, a baseball bat, a base, and an open scorebook. The text, both printed and handwritten in grand calligraphic style, reads "This Is To Certify that Charles H. Gould is an Active Member of the Boston Base Ball Club of Boston, Mass. Dated this 15th day of Mar. 1872." It is signed in black fountain pen by "Harry Wright," as Secretary, and "John A. Conkey," as President.
The Boston Red Stockings were a charter member of the 1871 National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, which is considered baseballs first Major League. Harry Wright served as player/manager of Boston during the club's five seasons in the National Association. Following the demise of the National Association in the fall of 1875, Wright remained with Boston as manager for six more seasons in the newly formed National League. As the certificate being auctioned is the first Boston Red Stockings membership certificate seen, it is not known if the Club presented certificates annually beginning in 1871, or how long the practice continued.
Adding to the significance of the certificate are the signatures of both Harry Wright and John Conkey. Wright ranks among the most influential baseball figures of the nineteenth century. In 1869 he founded and managed the Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball's first all-professional team. Wrights managerial career in Boston included seven league titles combined over the course of 11 seasons, He also enjoyed successful runs as manager of Providence and Philadelphia, before retiring in 1893. Wright is credited with developing numerous important innovations still in use today, including the use of hand signals to players, the constant repositioning of fielders in response to batter's tendencies, pre-game batting and fielding practice, and the use of statistics with regard to managerial strategy. Wright was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1953. John Conkey, who helped found the Red Stockings in 1871, was president of the Club for just one season. He succeeded Ivers Whitney Adams as president in 1872 before turning the position over to Charles Porter in 1873.
Charlie Gould was one of the original members of the legendary 1869 Boston Red Stockings. Considered the best fielding first baseman of his day, Gould was the only native Cincinnati player on the Club in 1869 and, as such, was a fan favorite. Gould remained with the Cincinnati Red Stockings for the 1870 season. He came East when beckoned by Harry Wright to join fellow Cincinnati teammates George Wright and Cal McVey on the Red Stockings in 1871. Gould played two seasons in Boston, where he twice led the league in double plays and putouts. After sitting out the 1873 season, he returned to the National Association for two more seasons, playing with Baltimore in 1874 and New Haven in 1875. In 1876 he was hired as player/manager of Cincinnati's entry in the National League. Unfortunately for Gould, his team finished in last place that inaugural season, and he was replaced as manager. Gould remained with the Club as a player in 1877 before officially retiring at the end of the year.
The certificate is estimated to sell for between $25,000-$50,000 +.