Spectators at a Rural Game

August 15, 2013 § Leave a comment


Vintage snapshot of a circa 1910s baseball game watched by a small crowd

Rural Baseball Game, c 1910s/’20s (click to enlarge)

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.

Detail of a section of a vintage snapshot of an early rural baseball game, showing the batter's grip

Detail of hitter (click to enlarge)

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Batter Up

June 16, 2013 § Leave a comment


amateur baseball players pose as if hitting and catching in circa 1920s snapshot

Ready for the pitch, c 1920s snapshot (click to enlarge)

Too Big a Bat

June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment


Small boy with big basebal bat poses in front yard, circa 1920s old photo

Wide grip, c 1920s (click to enlarge

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.”

Quite a Glove

April 24, 2013 § Leave a comment


Vintage snapshot of boy posing in his batting stance with glove on hip, circa 1920s/'30s

Batting Stance, c 1920s/1930s

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.

Close-up of boy in batting stance, showing the glove hanging from his hip

Murderers’ Row: The 1927 Fairfax High School Team

March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment


Yearbook photo of the 1927 Fairfax High baseball squad

The 1927 Fairfax High School baseball team, Los Angeles, CA (click to enlarge)

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.

Odd Spot for a Ballplayer

February 15, 2013 § Leave a comment


Vintage snapshot of a baseball player in uniform, likely in Winona, Minnesota, circa 1920s

Winona, Minnesota, c 1920s (click to enlarge)

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?

“Over the Fence and Far Away”

February 13, 2013 § Leave a comment


Vintage snapshot of an Occidental college baseball player swinging a bat, c 1922

Occidental College player, c 1922 (click to enlarge)

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.

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