Iconic images of Ty Cobb sliding into third base are ingrained in baseball history. Surely the most famous is Charles Conlon's classic shot of Cobb stirring up a cloud of dirt while upending the New York Highlanders Jimmy Austin in a successful steal attempt at Hilltop Park. Then there's the infamous Detroit Free News photo of Cobb spiking Philadelphia A's rookie Frank "Home Run" Baker in 1909. As baseball's leading batter and base stealer of the day, Cobb provided many such photo opportunities while practically owning American League base paths.
Less famous but no less rousing is the offered large format photo of Cobb and Baker taken by Joseph N. Pearce of Philadelphia. Surely Baker learned his lesson not to reach across the bag with Cobb bearing down, as he escaped this play intact. Measuring 14x11, this captivating photo is mounted in cabinet photo style to a backer which measures approximately 22x20 at the widest points of its surviving surface. Though the backer is absent a good bit of surface around the perimeter, the photo itself is unaffected and remains complete, intact and appealing. Baker's days with the Athletics date from late 1908 through 1914, dating this photo positively to circa the early-1910s.
Photographer Pearce's credit is embossed on the photo field at the lower right corner as "Jos. N. Pearce, Phila, Pa." and the names Cobb and Baker are written along the bottom edge of the photo respectively below the corresponding images of the Hall of Fame players. A reverse side identifying notation written in pencil reads "...Cobbs slides into third, Frank Baker received the ball too late to get him...".
Pearce was one of Philadelphia's leading photographers during the 1910s and a good number of his works have been made available in recent sales, including shots he took for the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, however no other prints of this particular scene have been discovered by H&S's research team. Cabinet style photos of this size have always been considered to be on the scarce side as they are difficult to maintain in such a large format. Given this piece was produced during the waning days of cabinet photo popularity and coupled with its considerable size, it seems reasonable to believe that it is quite rare.