Saturday, September 21, 2013

McCarthy mystery men #1: Bill Conklin UPDATE: Solved . . . it's Bill Kunkel

As I work my way through the 600+ baseball player photographs that I recently purchased from the estate of Detroit photographer James D. McCarthy I have encountered a few that have thus far defied my attempts to properly identify them.

Oh, I have a name attached to the envelope in which the pictures and negatives came to me, but that name doesn't correspond to any player I can find in my go-to source for baseball player data, the website 

I've been putting together a spreadsheet of these photos with player name, team and a range of the years he was with that team. 

Since McCarthy worked many seasons at his craft during spring training, there are many photos in this archive that depict players in major league uniforms who never played in a regular-season game for that team.

My usual procedure when encountering a player whose name I don't recognize is to first check the encyclopedic Total Baseball. If the player isn't there, indicating he never played in the bigs, I fire up the baseball-reference data base and look at his minor league stats to determine approximately what years he might have been in spring training with the team whose livery he wears.

Occasionally I am thrown a roadblock when either JDM or my former assistant who originally typed the names onto the envelopes 25+ years ago misspelled the player's name. In those cases I can usually search under my best guess as to the correct spelling and find the error.

If the baseball references fail to provide an answer, I run a google-search with the player name and the team name and/or "baseball".

Thus far, however, I have encountered three cases in which I am stumped as to player identity.

In this installment of the blog, and the next two to follow,I'm going to share with you the pictures of the McCarthy mystery men and solicit your input.

Let's start with a fellow pictured as a New York Yankee and identified as Bill Conklin.

Nobody by that name turned up in my searches as a major or minor league player in the Yankees organization.  Nor was I successful with possible alternative spellings such as Conklon or Coughlin.

From the format of the photo, it looks like something McCarthy shot in the mid-to-late 1960s, or very early 1970s. McCarthy usually photographed position players with a bat, and pitchers with a glove, so this photo indicates to me the player was a pitcher.

If you can provide concrete identification, or even a good guess, please email me at and maybe together we can figure out who this mystery Yankee is.

UPDATE: Several persons have solved this mystery player photo. It is Bill Kunkel, who pitched for the Yankees in 1963.

As these more sharp-eyed observers pointed out, the name KUNKEL and uniform number 20 are printed on his glove.

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