Our Game: Baseball’s Lost Chalice

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on November 3, 2011:

The strange story of Helen Dauvray and baseball’s first world’s championship trophy will be published at Our Game in three parts this week. Ballplayers and entertainment stars have always had a lot in common. Both expect and enjoy the limelight; both are separated from the rest of us by the adulation and money we pour on them. Sometimes in their separation from the rest of society they reach out to each other in matrimony: Rube Marquard and Blossom Seeley, Mike Donlin and Mabel Hite, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. In the 1880s John Montgomery Ward and Helen Dauvray had all the star power of any of them. Prior to their marriage Miss Dauvray had established an eponymous loving cup as the reward for winning the World Championship in 1887 and succeeding years. The Cup has been lost for so long that no one alive has seen it. Recent discoveries in the archives of the Gorham Manufacturing Company reveal much new detail about the cup; however, recent discoveries about its donor are even more interesting. 

Whatever happened to the Dauvray Cup? The game’s first World Series trophy, it was commissioned and funded in June 1887 by actress Helen Dauvray—before it was known that she cared for baseball or for New York Giants shortstop John M. Ward, whom she would go on to marry. The cup has been lost for so long that no one alive has seen it; no one can say when or how it was lost, or what fate may have befallen it—until now. Picking up an old, cold trail, I can report what the cup actually looked like—contemporary newspaper woodcuts were wildly off—how much it cost to make, and what may have happened to it between the baseball campaigns of 1893 and 1894. Even more interestingly, however, in the quest for baseball’s lost chalice I stumbled upon the true story of Helen Dauvray’s romantic, fabulously embroidered, self-invented life. The Dauvray Cup was, then and now, all about her.

Read part 1 here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/11/03/baseballs-lost-chalice/

Read part 2 here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/11/04/baseballs-lost-chalice-part-2/

Read part 3 here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/11/04/baseballs-lost-chalice-part-3/

Originally published: November 8, 2011. Last Updated: November 8, 2011.