When identifying people in old photographs, few resources are more helpful than finding the photograph printed in a newspaper with all the people in it identified.
This photo, from Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide (1907), is the earliest known image of White’s own Philadelphia Giants, dating from their first season in 1902:
In his book White didn’t identify anybody in the picture, though White himself and several others are readily recognizable. Luckily the photo was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 5, 1902, with a full caption telling us who’s who:
The photo shows two Hall of Famers (White and Frank Grant), as well as several other fairly well-known players, plus the team’s co-organizers, H. Walter Schlichter and Harry A. Smith. Schlichter was a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Item, editor of Sol White’s guide, and a boxing referee (he appears in a Thomas Eakins painting called “Taking the Count”). Harry Smith was also a sportswriter, for the Philadelphia Tribune (more about him in a minute).
There are many photos of Sol White, but only a handful of Frank Grant, so this picture is important in that regard.
But three of the players are especially obscure, thus especially interesting.
First, there’s “Smith,” the Giants’ center fielder, sitting on the far left next to Frank Grant. In box scores and game stories he appears as “H. Smith” and (at least once) Harry Smith. This is a little confusing, since the team’s co-organizer, who appears in the photo in a suit (seated in the middle row, second from right), was also named Harry Smith. While it’s possible that the player was getting confused with the sportswriter, I’d say the simplest explanation is that there were two Harry Smiths associated with the team.
There are other possibilities, of course. For one thing, I can’t reliably track Harry Smith the player after his time with the Philadelphia Giants. Maybe he was really some other, known player named Smith? William T. “Big Bill” Smith, an outfielder/catcher/first baseman, was around at this time, but he was (as far as I can tell) playing for the Cuban X Giants in 1902. Moreover, I don’t think photos of Big Bill match the one of Smith here:
According to a profile of Big Bill Smith published in the Indianapolis Ledger in 1915, “In 1902 Smith weighed 230 pounds and could hit according to his weight.” The guy in the 1902 photo does not look like he weighed 230 pounds.
There was also an outfielder named William Smith who captained the Chicago Unions in the late 1890s. He could also be Big Bill or Harry, but again, I need to do a lot more research to figure out if this is a possibility.
Second, there’s William Edgar Farrell (standing in the back, on the far left), usually known as Edgar Farrell. His time with the 1902 Philadelphia Giants was his sole appearance with what you might call a “top flight” black professional club, but he continued to play baseball in the Philadelphia area for another 15 years or so. More than a decade later he served as captain of the Blue Ribbon Base Ball Club of Germantown in Philadelphia (the same district where Roy Campanella was born).
Third, and last, there’s the player identified as “Day,” in front on the left. I originally thought him to be Eddie Day, a Reading, Pa., native who also played for the Cuban Giants…but the guy with the ’02 Philly Giants clearly doesn’t match the Eddie Day who appears in 1902 and 1903 Cuban Giants photos.