Friday, October 31, 2014

1942 News offered glimpse of old-time collections

In my reading of back issues of The Sporting News I am always delighted to find features about collectors from two or three generations back.

Such a find was to be made in the “Looping the Loops” column of TSN publisher J.G. Taylor Spink in the Aug. 6, 1942, issue.

Spink had been chronicling his recent tour of the baseball scene in California and made a stop at the home of one prominent collector. He presented it thus . . .

Al Scully—Souvenir Scourer
            While on the Coast we visited Al Scully’s house. Scully, who lives in Hollywood, owns what might be termed the West Coast branch of the Cooperstown Museum. Since last we visited Al’s home he has added to his collection of more than 4,000 baseball photographs a gallery of players in their service uniforms. Scully started this department shortly after Hugh Mulcahy, Hank Greenberg and several other early pre-war selectees were inducted and has kept up the collection since Pearl Harbor. It’s said to be, like Al’s entire collection, the most varied and strikingly presented private display of its kind in existence.
            Collecting baseball portraits has been Scully’s hobby for 25 years. Scion of a wealthy Chicago syrup manufacturing family, he has been able to devote at least two or three hours to his hobby each day. His museum and photographic gallery occupies one room on the second floor of his residence at 1031 South Rimpau boulevard. Each picture is uniformly framed and hung in rows from baseboard to ceiling. In addition to the more than 300 “current” framed portraits on open display, most of them autographed, Al has a large, systematically conducted file. If you don’t see your hero on the wall, just name him to Al and he’ll come up with his picture pronto.
            Scully has maintained his amazing collection strictly on a non-profit basis. He has, of course, a considerable cash investment in the huge outlay, including advertising address to other collectors with a view to swapping for items desired.
            Though the exhibit is in no sense a commercial service facility, Scully at times has loaned parts of his collection for public display. For instance, the World’s Fair in San Francisco showed a group of “California favorites,” which included Harry Heilmann, Chick Hafey, Lefty O’Doul, Freddie Fitzsimmons, Arky Vaughan, Ray Kremer, Lew Fonseca, Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Gomez, Babe Pinelli, Willie Kamm, Dutch Ruether and Tony Lazzeri.
            Recently Al branched out from purely pictorial trophies. He has a case of baseballs that have a historical background and a big lamp-shade crowded with player autographs. Formerly he had a noteworthy display of Japanese trophies, but recently he has stored these in the smokehouse.
            His section of old-timers is not to be duplicated, it is said. One of his main collaborators in this phase of his collection has been Charles Graham, president of the San Francisco Seals. In his youth Graham played on the famed Cordovas. Scully says that his Cordova collection is unique.
            Scully has specialized in portraits and groups. He has few action shots.
            And, we almost forgot to tell you: Al, who is a lifetime subscriber to The Sporting News, has bound volumes of every issue of The News published during the last 25 years.
*  *  *
Cullings From the Coast
While Al Scully’s collection runs mainly to photographs, George Young, the Pacific Coast League’s No. 1 fan, has one of the most extensive collections of major and minor league passes of any man in the country. Young, who operates a big wholesale business in Los Angeles and is a heavy stockholder in the Hollywood club, for years has received annual pass No. 1 of the Coast league.
And still speaking of souvenirs, Joe E. Brown, movie comedian, has a collection of autographed baseballs that perhaps is unsurpassed. These balls are neatly arranged in regular showcase style in the trophy room of Brown’s home, a typical movie star’s showplace, with swimming pool, private gate and all the trimmings. We’ll have more to say about Joe E.’s baseball collection.

There was a small one-column photo of Scully seated a desk with two walls of his framed baseball portraits in the background, but it is not suitable for reproduction here.

Besides collecting baseball memorabilia, Scully was a team owner in the Class C California League in 1941. He owned the Merced Bears, who operated only in 1941, folding due to the exigencies of World War II.

So, if you happen to live at 1031 South Rimpau in Hollywood, or know who does, it might be worthwhile to make an extensive excavation of basement and attic.

If you’re like me, you’re curious as to what became of Al Scully’s collection. Perhaps somebody in today’s milieu of baseball memorabilia collectors knows its current whereabouts.

In our next presentation, we'' take a look at yet another baseball collection that was detailed in that Aug. 6, 1942, issue of TSN.



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