"Holy Grail" is a term that gets bandied about and overused on the auction block. But nowhere does it ring more true than with the fabled 1903 World Series program at Pittsburgh. Up to now, there were only TWO such treasures extant. One is housed at the Baseball Hall of Fame; the other sold for nearly $250,000 (yes, a quarter of a million dollars) at the 2011 Louisville Slugger Museum auction. The existence of this third example, belonging to noted longtime collector Ben Cavallo, was previously known only to a select few in the hobby—and even they may not have been aware that it was scored for none other than the final Fall Classic contest at Exposition Park.
Just picture the halcyon scene. You're a baseball fanatic on the banks of the Allegheny River, with the smokestacks of central Pittsburgh visible across the water. You enter the sporting cathedral between its trademark grand spires, amid throngs of more than 17,000 spectators vying for spots in the jam-packed grandstand, in the vast roped-off outfield, or perched atop the surrounding fences. You've come to support your hometown-hero Pirates. Then again, maybe you're one of Nuf Ced McGreevey's Royal Rooters who journeyed down from Boston to play a rousing rendition of the Red Sox anthem "Tessie"...over and over and over again. Either way, you hand over a shiny nickel to secure one of the scarce programs in circulation, and you set about dutifully documenting all the action in Game 7. Not least of which is the seven ground-rule triples, resulting from balls landing in the overflow outfield crowd! All eyes, including yours, are trained on the legendary Cyclone himself, who hurls a masterful complete-game win, striking out Honus Wagner along the way. You score all nine innings in pencil as ground-breaking World Series history unfolds before you. Then you take your cherished program home with you and file it away for posterity.
Now here we are just over 115 years later and, remarkably, the delicate paper relic looks much the same as it did then, with bright colors, bold printing and neat handwritten scoring. Completely unrestored, it showcases 5 interior pages (numbered 1 to 10) that rate Excellent overall, while the covers are Fair with two original binding staples and several vintage tape reinforcements. Interestingly, a cover notation—hailing from a later date—is similar in style to that seen on the Hall of Fame's Game 5 example (linked on our website). Whereas the other surviving copy, auctioned in 2011, was unscored and thus could not be pinpointed to a specific game. It is worth noting as well that the less-elusive Boston versions of the 1903 World Series program are a simple foldover format lacking the multiple interior pages seen here, featuring head-shot photos of Wagner, Smith, Ritchey, Beaumont, Leach, Leever and Phillippe, plus officials Pulliam, Locke, Dreyfuss and Clarke. Dimensions of the landmark publication are 7-3/4" x 10-1/4". A once-in-a-lifetime collecting opportunity for the Holiest Grail of its kind!
This item has a reserve (estimated value: $150,000-$250,000).