Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Photo Of Packy Dillon

Anybody who is a regular reader of this blog knows that I have a thing for Patrick Henry Dillon. He's absolutely one of my favorite players from the 19th century, on a list with Fred Dunlap, Asa Smith, Bad Dickey Pearce, Lave Cross, Jack Gleason and Dillon's Red Stockings teammate Joe Blong.

One of the reasons I started researching 19th century St. Louis baseball was to try and figure out who Packy Dillon was. That quest was greatly aided by the assistance of the Dillon family, specifically Lynn Dillon. Recently, Lynn sent me the above photo.

Lynn told me that the picture was labeled P.H. Dillon and found taped in a book belonging to Dillon's daughter, Mary (who was also known as Marie). This is not incontrovertible evidence that this is a photo of Packy Dillon but I can't think of too many P.H. Dillons whose photo would be saved by Packy Dillon's niece. Let's just say that the odds are pretty good that the P.H. Dillon in the above photo is our boy Packy.

I do have a few problems with the picture. First, look at the hands. One would think that a guy who caught without a glove and then was a farmer would have rougher, more mangled hands. However, it's possible that the picture was taken prior to Dillon's baseball career. I find it difficult to say how old Dillon is in this picture, so I don't know. It'd be nice to have a date for the picture. Also, something about the clothes worn in the picture bothers me. While I'm not an expert on the subject, the clothing (as well as the hair) doesn't seem right for the era. It seems more antebellum than postbellum. But like I said, I'm no expert.

Lynn believes that the evidence supports the idea that this is Packy Dillon and, even with the reservations I've expressed, I tend to agree.


james e. brunson said...


Are you kiddin' me?! Look at that guy's mitts. Look at those thick digits (fingers). Look at how the right hand rests on his relatively small thigh (it looks like a catcher's mitt). I don't know Jeff, but the sitter's large hands look out of proportion to his body... they're farmer's hands alright!

By the way, I'm enjoying your bucolic discussions of St. Louis parks (Its like reading Frederick Law Olmsted's "City Beautiful" stuff)... It's setting the baseball season rather well! :)

Jeffrey Kittel said...

They are certainly some big hands but I was expecting some mangled, disformed, Silver Flint-type hands. But in my conversations with Lynn Dillon, she mentioned that she thinks the photo may have been a going-away-to college photo and therefore was taken around 1870, while Dillon was still young and his hands not abused as they would be in the future. While I'm not 100% certain that it's Packy Dillon, I'm somewhere in the mid-nineties.