As baseball has “evolved” to its current state of free agency, nine-figure contracts and lucrative endorsements, we have forever lost sight of the game’s erstwhile objectives. The offered trophy is a scarce link to an era during which love of the game was the only incentive. Rewards, as modest as they were, were appreciated and held dearly as nothing more than decorative reminders of achievement. This sterling silver trophy cup was bestowed upon Baltimore Orioles catcher Bill Byers during the 1906 season with Jack Dunn’s Eastern League installment. Crafted locally by Hennegan, Bates & Co., the gorgeous prize stands 9”-tall with symmetrically arranged handles accented by ornate finery. The facing is home to an engraved legend which reads: “PRESENTED TO Mr & Mrs W.J. Byers by the members of the Baltimore Baseball Club – July 28, 1906.” Therein lies much of the beauty of this artifact as the natural course is for the theatre of the mind to imagine and perhaps “invent” the complete story and circumstances surrounding the prize. The trophy, meanwhile, is absolutely beautiful. There are areas of age-induced oxidation which, quite frankly, somehow adds to the aesthetic appeal. These, of course, can be easily polished to be replaced by a lustful shine. The appearance (and story behind the origins) are up to you… More on our website.
Regarding the “purpose” of the trophy, what we know for certain is that Byers began professionally with the Logansport (IN) Ottos in 1896 at the age of 18. From there, he would play for a total of 14 minor league teams (including obscure clubs like the Portsmouth (VA) Boers and Marion (IN) Glass Blowers) before landing in Baltimore, where he authored by far his longest tenure (1904-1911) with any one suitor. As for Byers’ 1906 season, well, statistics do not show anything spectacular (.249 average with 0 home runs). Hence, is the trophy a wedding gift? An anniversary present? We’ll never know. But it’s a good bet that Byers enjoyed his career in Baltimore and, more importantly, fraternizing with his Oriole teammates. Byers died in Baltimore in 1948, which leads one to believe that he made it his home and remained following his baseball career.