August 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
This snapshot — more or less evenly split between the game action (or perhaps infield practice?) and a small group of spectators, with what looks like a distant farmhouse visible past the head of the person standing towards the left of the crowd — has a simple beauty, I feel. It’s also interesting to me in that it shows that split, Ty Cobb-like grip in use. I’ve always wondered how common that actually was (and how long it was used), especially after seeing some film of Ty Cobb in which he started with his hands apart, but then seemed to bring them together as he swung. This person clearly finished his swing with them still held apart. I have enlarged a section with the batter so it can be better seen.
June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment
This boy’s “grip” is of course not really a grip, but players of the era did sometimes employ — as it would appear George Pinkney did, from the previous post’s photos — a wide grip for better bat control. Ty Cobb famously claimed he could hit more home runs if he so chose, and he appears to have abandoned his classic grip at times to generate more power. From a piece on baseball bats at sabr.org:
“In 1920 and 1927, Babe Ruth hit more home runs than every other team in the American League. On May 5, 1925, however, Ty Cobb put up power numbers that even the great Ruth couldn’t muster. Frustrated with the publicity Ruth’s slugging had garnered, Cobb commented to a reporter that hitting home runs was not as hard as it looked. He declared that he too would start trying to swing for the fences. With a new mindset and a hands-together grip, Cobb went 6-for-6 that day, with two singles, a double, and three home runs, giving him sixteen total bases—still an American League record (shared with several others) for a nine-inning game. The next day, Cobb hit two more home runs, totaling five in two days—still a major-league record. Satisfied he had proved his point, Cobb returned to his familiar grip and style: trying to get base hits instead of hit home runs.”
April 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
A backyard pose, with glove close at hand. I’ve blown up a detail of the boy below, as it’s a little hard to see the great glove in the full photo. I picture him heading off to a game right afterwards, though I am not actually sure how many leagues they had for kids at the time (Little League baseball began in 1939 with just three teams, and until 1947 was limited to Pennsylvania). There are many snapshots of boys from that era in uniform, and I assume that at times they were on actual teams, but suppose that in many cases they were just wearing uniforms they were given by their parents.
March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
I recently came across a 1927 yearbook from Fairfax High School in Hollywood, and liked how they called the varsity teams from the various sports “Heavyweight” (for the football team they use that term in the title; here it is in the last sentence, where they refer to the “heavyweight nine”). It seems they were a good team, ending up in second place — rather than first — mainly due to some pitching issues. No players are named.
February 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
This is another snapshot from my collection, and one in which I have never been quite sure what is going on. There is a stamp on the rear from Van Vranken’s Studio in Winona, Minnesota, so I assume it was likely taken in or near that city, which is tucked into the southeastern corner of the state along the Mississippi River. The ballplayer has his right arm around whatever that black object is — some sort of rolled flag or banner perhaps?
February 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
It’s a little hard to know precisely how to begin a project like this, but I figured I would start with this circa 1922 snapshot of a player from Occidental College in Los Angeles — partly because it happens to be my most recently acquired baseball photo, partly because I live not far from the school and have actually played games on its field in my adult baseball league, and lastly, because I love inscriptions on photos, and thought this one had something sweet and simple to it. I found it on an album page of other shots from Occidental, including some of a 1922 football game against Pomona-Pitzer. I have no idea who this is, and have not been able to find a roster for that year’s team.