The image above shows what I’ve called the “Santop montage,” a collection of black baseball photographs from the 1910s that was auctioned off by Hake’s a few years ago. Its exact origin was apparently unknown, but since it features several images of the famed deadball-era slugger Louis Santop, Hake’s speculated that the montage, “relief mounted and professionally framed,” “may have been done specifically for” Santop.
It also features many photos of Santop’s teammates over the years, including Leroy Grant, John Henry Lloyd, Ashby Dunbar, Bill Pettus, and others, making the connection to him even more solid.
Recently I was doing a little double-checking on Santop’s death date. A few sources, evidently following Riley’s Biographical Encyclopedia, still say he passed away on January 6, 1942; he actually died at 25 minutes past midnight on January 22, 1942, according to both his death certificate and contemporary press accounts, after a long illness.
In the course of doing this, I looked again at the Philadelphia Tribune’s fairly lavish coverage of his life, death, and funeral. As it turns out, the answer to the puzzle of the montage’s origins was staring us in the face the whole time. (In fact, I’m sure there are lots of people out there who already know, but it’s new to me.)
(Philadelphia Tribune, January 31, 1942, p. 13)
Jack Saunders, the Tribune’s sports editor, explained that Santop had three passions: baseball, politics, and…scrapbooking.
Given what we’re told here, odds are that the “Santop montage” was indeed Santop’s montage, put together by him (or at his direction) from his own personal collection. Moreover, there was a lot more besides this one page. By the time of his death he had amassed ten full scrap books of material, “over a thousand pictures,” according to Saunders. To be sure, not all of it was baseball; but surely Santop’s collection included more baseball photos than we’ve got in this montage. I wonder if it has survived, and if so, where it is now?