A good detective story.
In February, I told the story of Peter Pierre Childs’ one-pitch triple play while he was the manager and occasional relief pitcher for the Portsmouth Cobblers in the Ohio State League in 1910. While I was able to locate a picture of Childs with Portsmouth, I could not find a high-quality image of him in a major league uniform. The only one I was aware of was a grainy photo included with Childs’ one-sentence biography in Wikipedia.
After I posted the story, I received an email from Mark Fimoff, co-chair SABR Pictorial History Committee. Mark is one of the foremost baseball photograph researchers and has helped me identify players in photographs in the past.
He has recently discovered two photographs of Childs that have been misidentified for more than 100 years.
The pictures are part of the collection from The Chicago Daily News. The paper, and subsequently, the Library of Congress and the Chicago History Museum misidentified Childs (and also got the year wrong) until Mark discovered the error.
The listings for the pictures say:
“Baseball player Delhanty [sic] standing on a baseball field.”
“Baseball player Delhanty [sic] bending forward with hands on his knees standing on a baseball field.”
“Delhanty” is Jim Delahanty, who played with Childs on the 1901 Chicago Orphans.
The listings for the photos also say they were taken in 1906. Mark said, based on the uniform and the centerfield clubhouse visible in the photos—the wood structure pictured was replaced with a brick structure in 1905—the photos could not be from 1906. Neither Childs nor Delahanty played with Chicago in any season other than 1901–so the photo was taken sometime between mid-July and October of 1901.
Childs was acquired by the Orphans in July after he was released by the St. Louis Cardinals. He replaced Cupid Childs (no relation), who had been released by Chicago a week earlier, at second base.
Pete Childs was an upgrade in the field but hit just .229, 29 points lower than his predecessor, Cupid Childs.
The Chicago Inter Ocean said:
“Pete Childs is the best thing, in a fielding sense, Chicago has had since the days of (Fred) Pfeffer. It is a mystery how a man who moves so fast after a grounder can move so slow in going down to first. It is probable that Motionless Peter stands on his heels when batting, and that he thus heaves a mound of earth under his hoofs, blocking his passage, when he scoots, and materially jarring his batting average.”
Pete Childs was released by Chicago at the end of the 1901 season.