In Baltimore, the traditions of superb third basemen and civic pride go hand in hand. While many will be quick to cite an Arkansas-born fielding wizard as the city’s biggest legend after his 23-year career and subsequent endeavors with the Orioles, it was the city's 1890s National League juggernaut that produced a third baseman and roster whose lifelong ties defined loyalty and the true meaning of “teammates.”
Attesting to those sentiments, it is with unbridled pride and excitement that we present this silver-plated tray presented to Hall of Famer John McGraw on the day of his first wedding. Bestowed upon the fiery Oriole as he married Minnie Doyle, the daughter of prominent Baltimore politician Michael Doyle, the heirloom was crafted by Simpson, Hallmiller and Co. and measures 22-1/2 x 16-6/8”. With handles at each end and ornate finery along the periphery, the hallowed tray features a floral design, whose center is home to an engraved legend reading: “Presented to JOHN J. McGRAW - By the Baltimore Base Ball Exhibition Co. – February 3rd, 1897.” Breathtaking in its own right as a rare and unique Hall of Fame keepsake, the item is symbolic of the team camaraderie and brotherhood inherent to those storied Baltimore Orioles rosters. As tight as they were with the mission of winning a paramount objective, these Orioles didn’t take kindly to “outsiders.” Even Jack Doyle, a talented player with McGraw’s wife’s namesake and McGraw’s Irish heritage, was not welcome (especially by McGraw), and was quickly dealt to Washington.
McGraw’s aforementioned marriage ended in tragedy, as Minnie died of appendicitis in 1899 at the tender age of 23. But teammate and friend Wilbert Robinson helped McGraw cope, partnering in bowling and billiards parlors and introducing Duckpin Bowling to Baltimore that same year. As for the lifelong ties to each other and the City of Baltimore, one need only cite the final resting places of those 1896 National League Champion Orioles to find an unusual trend reserved only for military and royalty. McGraw passed away from uremic poisoning in 1934 in Rochelle, New York. His remains were shipped to Baltimore for services and burial at New Cathedral Cemetery. Less than six months later, Robinson died in Atlanta Georgia. His remains were shipped to and buried at New Cathedral, as well. Of those 1896 Orioles, Steve Brodie, Ned Hanlon, Bill Keister and Otis Stocksdale all were born in and passed away in a state other than Maryland. Yet all had their remains shipped to and buried in Baltimore.
A gift of kinship and heartfelt wishes of happiness, the tray presents beautifully. Scattered surface marks and age-induced oxidation only add to the aesthetic appeal of a treasure that, like those Oriole bonds, has stood the test of time.