A question came in the other day asking who the Pittsburgh batter is in this piece. The writer wondered if it was the great Honus Wagner. That would be something, wouldn’t it? Could there be a more interesting action shot than those two Hall of Famers together?
When I first saw this image some years ago my first impression was that it was, indeed, Wagner at the plate. The pose fits my conception of how Honus would appear in action. The nose, too, seems fairly prominent–not unlike Han’s honker. But this batter is hitting from the left side of the plate (Honus was a rightie). Could the plate have been reversed? No, Bresnahan has his catcher’s mitt on the correct hand. Who, then is the batter?
While Wagner played for Pittsburgh from 1900 through 1917, Bresnahan only appeared with the Giants from 1902 through 1908. This image is almost certainly from the latter part of that period.
A quick check of the Pittsburgh rosters from those years turns up several possibilities and I feel that the most likely are either Fred Clarke or Beals Becker. Both were lefties, both had generous noses and both were a bit smaller than The Flying Dutchman. Who do you think that it is?
I used colored pencils and a little gouache to do this piece. Gosh, it was done quite a while ago now. The most recent copy of this Imperial Cabinet that sold just this past week was the last one that I had.