Tom Shieber did a great job deciphering the mystery of a group of portraits that were incorrectly cataloged as baseball players and ended up being top billiard players of the era.
But mysteries still abound like the unidentified mustachioed man shown here. Some have thought he was Sam Wright Jr.
Well, the mystery is over!
Image 56083 or the ‘Unidentified man wearing a suit and bow tie’ is none other than William Henry Harrison Murray.
William Henry Harrison Murray, also known as Adirondack Murray, the eccentric clergyman and author that some consider as the father of the Outdoor Movement in America.
To make things short, (You can read more about his life by clicking above on his name) Murray became the pastor of Park Street Church in Boston around 1868 and resigned in 1874 when his congregation started opposing his ‘sporting proclivities’. He kept preaching for 3 more years for large audiences at Boston’s Music Hall.
Murray’s portrait was likely taken between 1874 and 1877 where he could have met either Harry Wright, Al Spalding or both Red Stockings players while in Boston and that’s how I assume this particular photograph ended up being part of Spalding’s Collection.
It’s worth noting that this particular portrait of Murray was commercialized by Warren’s Boston studio and many copies in different photographic formats do exist.
There’s probably more to add on a possible link between Murray and Wright/Spalding, but I need to dig a bit deeper.
Hope the fine guys at the New York Public Library get to read this and restore Mr. Murray’s long-forgotten identity.