If you are a real baseball fan, how often do you come across a collectible, artifact or story that surprises you? Over the last dozen years, my experiences have brought a number of these surprises. From 100 year-old baseball cards in a frame on someone’s wall to an autographed photo of a Hall of Fame player who passed away in 1948 (Hack Wilson) to a Mickey Mantle autographed newspaper advertisement for a vacuum bottle. Now, another surprise has come my way.
A recent collection included the 1925 version of the Reach Baseball Guide. For the cost of 35 cents, a fan received over 500 pages of information including editorial comment, statistical records, vintage photos and even a minor league review. Haven’t you always been curious about the 1924 pennant race in the Class D Blue Ridge League? The flag was captured on the last day of the season by the Martinsburg (WV) Blue Sox. Reggie Rawlings was their star player with 21 HR’s and a .379 BA.
A.J. Reach & Co. was the largest manufacturer of sporting goods in the country from the late 1800’s through the 1920’s. Al Reach was the founder of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise and his company manufactured numerous sporting goods products. In the pages of the 1925 guide, you’ll find ads promoting baseballs (the official American League ball), baseball mitts (gloves), soccer balls, basketballs, football helmets, golf equipment, tennis rackets and more. In 1934, Reach sold all of its rights and products to its chief rival, Spalding, and the name disappeared from the baseball landscape.
Part I of the guide reviews the 1924 pennant races and the World Series where the Washington Senators defeated the New York Giants in 7 games. Walter Johnson (the AL MVP) pitched the last four innings for the win in a 12-inning nail-biter.
Part II includes a review of the post-season Giants – White Sox European Tour. The details seem to indicate that it was less than successful due to lack of knowledge by potential fans and the inclement weather in October & November. Games were played in Liverpool, Dublin, London & Paris. Certainly a curiosity in baseball history.
Part III covers statistical information for the 1924 season…the AL list shows Babe Ruth leading the league with a .378 BA and 46 HR’s. Interestingly, RBI’s aren’t included on the page.
Part IV reviews the ’24 World Series in minute detail while Part V includes record setting accomplishments. Then Part VI spends over sixty pages on the minor leagues.
Part VII is primarily about the business of baseball reviewing annual meetings of each league and a preview of the 1925 schedule.
Photos include Ban Johnson (AL President), Kenesaw M. Landis (Commissioner), Babe Ruth, John A. Heydler (NL President), Rogers Hornsby (led the NL with a .424 BA), Dazzy Vance (NL MVP) and group shots of every team.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also an addendum with the “Official 1925 Code of Playing Rules for Playing Baseball”. Rule 18 says that players in uniform shall not be permitted to occupy seats in the stands, or to mingle with the spectators.
Gotta love these trips in the baseball time machine.